Your council tax: How to have a say in next year’s Tower Hamlets budget
- Credit: Mike Brooke
Budget consultations have begun with Tower Hamlets Council locked into its biggest crisis for years in the face of the national Covid emergency.
It is up against ongoing financial pressures and now has to cut a further £30million in response to the pandemic in addition to the £200m it has already cut back on.
The town hall has £1.2 billion gross expenditure mostly government cash for statutory public and social services, but also including £354million net from council tax raised locally, half of which is earmarked for children and vulnerable adults.
Covid-19 has had a huge impact on services and council finances, made worse by the country about to go into a second national lockdown.
“The government hasn’t fully covered our reduced income,” mayor John Biggs said.
“We have faced and increased costs while the government is saying that local authorities should do ‘whatever it takes’ for communities, on top of a decade of austerity. The impact of Covid-19 highlights the importance of public services.”
The additional uncertainty depends on how much Whitehall hands out to soften the Covid-19 pressures and the impact the pandemic puts on its reduced revenues from council tax and business rates.
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Yet even so, Tower Hamlets claims to have the seventh lowest council tax in Greater London.
The council now wants to hear from households about what social the services they value most for its preparations to decide where the cuts fall, as it prepares the budget for 12 months that rolls into the next three-year forecast period up to 2023.
The mayor’s cabinet member for resources, Candida Ronald, said: “It’s important that people take part in this consultation to make sure their voices are heard during these challenging times.
“The the whole community has come together responding Covid-19. We need people’s help to shape the future.”
The town hall is warning of cuts by getting ready to “adapt services to make them more efficient”.
It has anti-poverty measures in place including funding free school meals which is costing £3m alone, but this would be one hot potato if the knife fell on this plate.
The budget consultation now online runs until 5pm on December 9. A budget booklet is also being distributed through the letterbox.