Newham Council deliver balanced budget

16 November 2018 in Finance
Newham Council will deliver a balanced 2018/19 budget after amendments were agreed at a meeting of the council’s Cabinet this week (Thursday, 15 November).
Higher than anticipated demand on services saw the council forecast to be £9.3m over-budget by the end of the financial year.

The council’s budget amendments will see it provide extra money to its Children’s and Young Peoples service and balance the budget without using finite financial reserves.

A balanced budget will allow Newham Council a firmer basis on which to plan the Medium Term Financial Strategy, which will include introducing a variety of measures to help low-income families.

The Cabinet member for finance, Councillor Terence Paul, said: “We have provided additional funding to the Children’s services to the tune of £10.6m.

“There will be a costing and time programme to deliver the modernisation of our Children’s services, to ensure we get great service and the right redesign.

“We have also made internal changes to improve financial control within our council to ensure that this overspend does not happen again.

“These will make sure we have the right controls on our money.”

Measures to ease pressure on low-income families, which are included in the proposed 2019/20 budget, include:
  • MoneyWorks service will provide access to fair, low-cost loans, as well as crisis loans and money management advice​
  • Care leavers will be exempt from paying Council Tax in the borough until the age of 25
  • Universal Credit and arrears support has been made available in libraries and Community Neighbourhood Centres
  • Discretionary Housing Payment which can help reduce the financial strain on low income houses in the rented sector to help them manage other costs
  • Reducing use of bailiffs and court costs when residents miss payments to avoid additional money being added to their debt.
A total of £9.4m will be invested into the 2018/19 budget. These adjustments will be paid for by cancelling the one-off transfer of £5m to the general fund, which had been agreed on to replenish the fund after reserves were used to balance the 2017/18 budget.

An additional £4.4m has come from higher business rates retained, together with S31 grant income received from central government to compensate for decisions made that reduced the council’s business rates income.

An increase in Council Tax is also being considered as part of the budget.

The 2019/20 budget will be decided at Cabinet and Full Council meetings in February 2019.