Newham Mayor heralds 'outstanding' budget protecting residents from cuts in services

23 February 2016 in Council and democracy and Finance and Mayor
The Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, has heralded the council’s budget and New Deal for the borough as a package protecting residents by not cutting frontline services.
Last night’s meeting of Full Council (Monday 22 February) saw the package of measures proposed by the Mayor unanimously agreed. These measures will see the council’s part of the Council Tax frozen for the eighth successive year, residents paying slightly less Council Tax next year, and no cuts to frontline services.

Under the New Deal the council will invest £100 million in the borough’s roads, footpaths and lights over the next ten years; take steps to keep the borough safer, cleaner and greener; and continue investing in helping Newham residents find jobs.

Councillors also agreed the introduction of the Government’s two per cent care tax to help cover the funding shortfall in adult social care services caused by the Government’s cuts. However, with the Olympic tax to fund the 2012 Games ending this April, Newham residents will pay slightly less Council Tax next year than in 2015/16.

Sir Robin said: “Over the five years of the coalition Government we faced one of the biggest cuts to our funding in the country, and we face more cuts in the next few years. These cuts are the biggest assault on local government in history.

“But when they attack our funding we are there to defend our residents. That is why this budget does not contain any cuts and possibly the biggest spend by any London council on improving the local environment.

“I am very proud of this budget which is about raising standards in our borough. I believe it is one of the most outstanding budgets you will see in local government today.”

Over the last five years the council has achieved savings of £117 million without cutting frontline services. It now needs to find an additional £70 million savings by 2020. The package of measures agreed by Full Council includes £38 million of savings, income generation and other efficiencies to help balance the budget for 2016/17.

Sir Robin added: “It is not enough just to provide the services we always have in the way we always have. We are efficient, active and entrepreneurial and doing things for our residents, other people have not thought about.

“If we can find more efficient ways of delivering our services we will do that. We continue to do more than any other council in this country in terms of helping our residents find work, supporting our children, and tackling the housing crisis.

“The tragedy of our budget is there is so much more we could be doing for our residents if we didn’t have this nonsensical austerity programme from the Government.”

The New Deal has been developed in response to an extensive public consultation, which saw a record response from Newham residents, on the services that matter most to them. It includes:
  • Keeping Newham Moving – a New Deal for our Roads: investing £100 million over the next ten years to improve the borough’s roads, footpaths and streetlights to help people travel across Newham as safely and smoothly as possible. The council will also support more car clubs, take tougher enforcement action on yellow box junctions and introduce residential parking zones borough-wide to give residents priority over parking in their own neighbourhood;
  • Keeping Newham Clean – a New Deal for our Environment: investing an extra £¼m to make the borough cleaner and greener by introducing teams to visit residents, businesses and school children to encourage them to recycle and keep their neighbourhood clean; £1million invested in a dedicated enforcement team to ensure those who dump rubbish on our streets are made to pay for their actions; bringing in a bulky waste collection charge for a 12 month trial period, and maintaining weekly waste collections;
  • ongoing investment in the council’s job brokerage scheme Workplace which has helped nearly 30,000 residents into employment since 2007;
  • continuing to improve the quality of the borough’s private rented sector through the landlord licensing scheme and ensuring new developments provide the affordable homes needed by Newham’s residents. At least 3,000 new homes being built over the next ten years through the Newham Council owned company Red Door Ventures - all the homes will be available for residents at market rent or below with some of the homes offered at affordable rent subsidised by the council. The majority of the affordable units will be family-sized homes.
  • identifying commercial funding to reduce council spending on annual free events which bring local communities together including Under the Stars and the Mayor’s Newham Show.