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Council tax 4pc rise to be voted on tonight by Tower Hamlets councillors

PUBLISHED: 14:54 24 February 2016 | UPDATED: 14:54 24 February 2016

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs...

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs... "Volunteers are providing important services to families"

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Public spending cuts are set to double in London’s deprived East End with Tower Hamlets council tax rising by four per cent.

Tower Hamlets Mayor John BiggsTower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs

Mayor John Biggs is putting his budget for the next year from April before tonight’s council meeting.

Trade union activists plan to lobby the meeting to protest at threats to social welfare services resulting from the cuts resulting from government spending redstrictions.

Members of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition have invited Labour’s national leader Jeremy Corbyn to join them at the protest outside the Town Hall at 7pm, but so far admit they’ve had no response from him.

The council tax rise has already been agreed by Mayor Biggs’s cabinet last month which goes before councillors to be ratified—with his overall Labour majority on the council.

“Budget savings this year are about £15m—but next year it will double to £30m,” the mayor warned at a media briefing in Whitechapel.

“Next year will be a lot tougher because we need to make big savings.

“This will involve some decisions that will be unpopular. But we want to protect local people.”

Half the four per cent increase includes finding the cash for some of the adult social care services, resulting from cuts in Whitehall funding.

Tonight’s draft budget proposals also include funds to tackle anti-social behaviour on the streets of the East End, improving street cleansing, meeting the costs of increased demand for waste services and putting more cash in adult social care.

“No one wants to see Council Tax rises,” the mayor added. “But we need to find a way of funding the services that are important.”

The budget draft has undergone some surgery already, after feedback from a series of public forums.

Changes include scrapping plans to reduce or stop Sunday opening at library and Idea Stores which had hoped to save £93,000. A proposal to reduce the council’s corporate match-funding stash by £246,000 has also been dropped, so that the money can be used to “lever in” more funding for projects to help rejuvenate the deprived the East End.

A saving of £241,000 from the Day Services for Older People has been delayed and is only going ahead “after alternatives have been found for those affected”, the Mayor promises.

John Biggs steps down as the London Assembly’s budget chairman and its City & East London member in May at the end of his term at City Hall.

He has been on the London Assembly for Labour since 2000, but is now to concentrate full time at Tower Hamlets after winning the re-run election for mayor last June.

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