Fairness in Tough Times: Draft Budget Endorsed with £400m Boost in Investments

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Newham's Cabinet has rallied behind a ground-breaking draft budget for the 2024/2025 fiscal year, reflecting a commitment to growth and fairness in the borough.

  • Balanced budget set with key services protected
  • Budget boost for temporary accommodation and social care
  • £400m invested in capital programmes

Despite facing significant financial challenges, Newham's Cabinet has rallied behind a ground-breaking draft budget for the 2024/2025 fiscal year, reflecting a commitment to growth and fairness in the borough. With a focus on strategic investments totalling £400 million, this budget stands as a testament to resilience and progress even in the face of adversity.

The Council’s robust financial measures include plans to use the sale of unused council buildings and land to ensure that services are maintained, improved and delivered. Alongside changes to improve how the Council operates, investments will also focus on areas of most need, with temporary accommodation receiving £15m to support Newham families facing homelessness, alongside £11.6m for adults social care, and £4.5m for children and young people social care.

The Council will also continue to build by investing over £400m in capital projects, including £196m to purchase properties to alleviate the housing crisis; £25m on our streets, paths and parks; £100m on regeneration projects will also include establishing 15 minute neighbourhoods and rewilding the Royal Docks and another £178m investment in our social housing.

The endorsed draft budget prioritises essential services, ensuring that key areas such as temporary accommodation and social care receive much-needed boosts in funding. This commitment to maintaining vital services comes alongside a balanced budget that safeguards core functions while driving forward an agenda of positive change.

Among the notable investments are plans to revitalise critical infrastructure and community spaces. The £400 million injection into capital programmes will fuel projects like the redevelopment of Carpenters Primary School and the regeneration of areas such as Custom House and Canning Town. Additionally, initiatives like the establishment of the Newham Heritage Centre and the refurbishment of the Will Thorne Pavilion underscore the borough's dedication to preserving its cultural heritage and enhancing public amenities.

Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz OBE expressed confidence in the budget's ability to steer Newham towards a fairer future: "Our draft budget demonstrates our unwavering commitment to meeting the needs of our residents and building a Newham that is equitable and prosperous for all," she stated. "Through prudent financial management and strategic investments, we are navigating these challenging times while driving positive change across the borough."

“With financial challenges continuing to impact Newham and local government nationally, and with the costs of goods and services continuing to rise, we’ve proposed radical solutions that will ensure, that Newham continues to be a vibrant, thriving borough with quality services that meet and exceed the expectations of the residents that we serve.”

Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, Councillor Zulfiqar Ali, said: “The government’s continued failure to provide local authorities with the vital funding to deliver services it expects councils to deliver is having a huge impact across our services. The Government has made deliberate plans to force councils to increase Council Tax. We are also facing the worst homelessness crisis in the country and our temporary accommodation costs are hitting us hard.

“Chronic underfunding over the last 14 years has forced us to put in place ever-more creative ways to make up the shortfall to provide residents with the services they rightly deserve, such as by using the funding from unused council assets to reduce massive housing pressures and support families facing the worst. Two thirds of our funding comes from the Government. Working with councils across the capital, we will continue to push the government to recognise its responsibilities to provide the necessary funding to avoid tougher decisions being made in the future.”

The draft budget also includes targeted investments to enhance various services, including special education needs, leisure facilities, and digital infrastructure. These allocations underscore the council's commitment to improving residents' quality of life and bolstering key public services.

While the proposed budget includes modest increases in Council Tax and social rent, it also maintains support for vulnerable households through schemes like the Council Tax Reduction program. Final decisions on these adjustments will be made at the Full Council meeting in February, following the publication of the Budget 2024/25 for approval by Mayor Fiaz and her Cabinet.

As Newham charts a course towards recovery and prosperity, this draft budget signals a bold step forward in ensuring fairness and growth for all residents. To learn more about the Local Investment for Fairness in Tough Times - Draft Budget Proposals for 2024/25, please visit the Newham Council website.

Published: 01 Feb 2024