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Newham Council sets 'remarkable budget'

28 February 2017 in Council and democracy and Mayor
Newham residents are set to pay the lowest Council Tax in outer London after councillors last night (Monday 27 February) agreed what the Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, has heralded as a ‘remarkable budget’.
The agreement, which will once again see no cuts to the council’s frontline services, means  Newham Council’s part of the Council Tax will be frozen for the ninth successive year.

As the council is not increasing the Government’s adult social care tax, introduced last year residents will pay the same to support the running of the council’s services from 1 April as they do now.

The decision means as well as potentially paying the lowest Council Tax in outer London, Newham residents will be paying less to their council than a number of inner London boroughs.

The council, which has seen nearly half of its government funding cut since 2010, has been able to achieve this through  an innovative approach to finding new ways of generating funding in the face of savage cuts from Whitehall.

This includes changes to the way it delivers its services including developing its small business programme – a radical and unique way in which the council is changing services to provide a better, fairer deal for residents whilst continuing to build resilience in the local community.

Sir Robin said: “This is another remarkable budget that compares favourably with any council in the country.

“Rather than saving money by privatising our services we are creating new ones that are controlled directly by our staff and owned in partnership by the employees and the community.

“This is real public service reform. We are not just packaging up existing services and outsourcing them like so many other councils. This approach is delivering the savings we need while empowering our workers and making our services responsive to local people.

”We are not increasing the social care precept this year because we have managed our budgets well. What we need is for the Government to work with councils across the country to find a real solution to the crisis in social care funding rather than applying a sticking plaster to the issue.”

The budget agreed last night includes £18.8 million in savings and other efficiencies that will be made over the coming financial year. Despite the ongoing cuts to its government funding and other pressures on its budgets, the Mayor has reiterated his commitment to continue investing in enhancing the borough.

Through the Keep Newham Moving and Keep Newham Clean initiatives announced last year as part of the Mayor’s New Deal for Newham the council has:
  • installed 1,600 street lights and 3,000 LED lanterns to make sure the borough’s paths and roads are better lit and safer
  • established a visiting team that has made more than 70,000 visits to inform local residents about recycling and waste disposal
  • set up a new fly-tipping taskforce to crack down on those who thoughtlessly dump rubbish on the borough’s streets and open spaces. The council has issued more fixed penalty notices for fly-tipping than any other local authority in the country.
Sir Robin said: “It is no secret we face a significant financial challenge. But last year I pledged there would be no cuts to the council’s frontline services and I am continuing that commitment today.

“Despite the onslaught we face from this Government we have balanced the books while continuing to deliver for our residents. I am proud of what we have achieved.

“I am also proud of what we are achieving with yet another remarkable budget – freezing council tax, protecting frontline services and continuing to invest in our priorities.”

While Newham Council is freezing its share of the Council Tax the Greater London Authority has agreed an increase of 1.5 per cent to its share of the bill. This will mean residents in Band D properties will see an increase in their bill of £4.02.