Public services ‘at breaking point’ Tower Hamlets warns government over £148m spending cuts

PUBLISHED: 17:22 25 March 2019 | UPDATED: 18:28 25 March 2019

Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs...

Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs... "The cuts must end before they do more harm to essential services." Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

Formal backing for the ‘Breaking Point’ campaign to fight the government’s austerity programme and its impact on public spending has been agreed by Tower Hamlets Council.

Reaching 'breaking point'? Spending on the East End’'s services cut by £148m, down 64pc in nine years.  Picture: Mike BrookeReaching 'breaking point'? Spending on the East End’'s services cut by £148m, down 64pc in nine years. Picture: Mike Brooke

The government is being urged by local authorities up and down the country to “properly fund” public services.

The effect of the austerity programme launched by the coalition government in 2010 has cut spending on the East End’s services by £148million, a 64 per cent reduction, with a further £44m being slashed in the next three years.

Mayor John Biggs claimed the government had made “reckless cuts to local councils” which was putting services “at risk”.

“We have faced nearly a decade of cut after cut,” he said. “We need to send a message that the cuts must end before they do even more harm to essential day-to-day services and the vital frontline services like supporting children at risk, disabled adults and vulnerable pensioners.”

Town halls up and down the country are facing a further gap of £7.8bn by 2025 just to keep services ‘standing still’ and meeting additional demand.

Cllr Candida Ronald... Cllr Candida Ronald... "The government'’s review is dressed up as 'fair', but millions will be taken away from us and distributed to the shires." Picture: Mike Brooke

The council also warned about the potential impact of the government’s ‘Fair Funding’ scheme to change the way town halls are funded, levelling out cash from deprived inner city urban areas like the East End to spread to other more affluent areas.

Tower Hamlets’ cabinet member Candida Ronald, said: “The government’s ‘review’ is dressed up as ‘fair’ on how councils are funded. I fear the truth will prove similar to the way funding has been slashed for schools, with millions taken away from areas like Tower Hamlets and redistributed to the shires.”

The council has voted to oppose any attempt to redistribute funds out of London.

“The prime minister might say austerity is over,” Cllr Ronald added. “But there is no end in sight to the cuts for local authorities.”

The council which manages a £1.2billion budget including government social welfare funding is lending its weight the ‘Breaking Point’ campaign.

Even Tory-run councils are struggling to cope, the Labour-run town hall points out, such as Northamptonshire “effectively declaring bankruptcy” last year.

More than £500m is likely to be diverted from London boroughs, mainly to the shires, according to a Local Government Chronicle analysis.

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