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‘Don’t you put up our council tax in April’ public warns Tower Hamlets mayor

PUBLISHED: 10:00 29 December 2019

Mayor John Biggs... hints at council tax rise, despite public opposition. Picture: Rehan Jamil

Mayor John Biggs... hints at council tax rise, despite public opposition. Picture: Rehan Jamil

© Rehan Jamil

Another £39million in public service cuts face deprived East End families who need support in the next three years, Tower Hamlets Council is warning.

'Tough choices' need to be made to keep services going, Mayor Biggs warns. Picture: Mike Brooke'Tough choices' need to be made to keep services going, Mayor Biggs warns. Picture: Mike Brooke

The cuts are on top of the £190m that have already been axed in the past decade from government funding since 2010, town hall bosses point out.

But the mayor has been urged not to raise council tax in April to cover the funding gap.

A tough budget for the 12 months from April is now planned by the council, which follows six weeks of public consultations which have thrown up stiff opposition to any tax rise.

Some 2,000 households, businesses and community organisations responded during to the consultations airing their views.

Cllr  Candida Ronald... Cllr Candida Ronald... "We remain committed to safeguarding families from negative impact of funding cuts." Picture: Mike Brooke

Half oppose council tax rise, while 38pc support 2pc increase, with 47pc in favour of up to 2pc specifically to su pport adult social care.

The "most valued" council functions seen by the public in the survey are children's services and education and those supporting vulnerable children and the elderly or vulnerable adults.

But "tough choices" need to be made to keep those services going, which the mayor hinted could mean council tax going up in April.

"These are financially uncertain times," John Biggs said. "But we've worked to safeguard frontline services where we can.

"It's clear that growing need for service for many of our most vulnerable residents is set to increase.

"Hearing directly from the public about the services they rely on provides us with crucial insight towards setting our budget for next year."

A detailed report on the budget consultation findings was approved at the mayor's cabinet on December 18.

Significant "real terms" government core funding reductions since 2010 and growing pressure on public services mean that the council has to make savings of £39m which would most likely hit voluntary organisations in the community the most.

The council's cabinet member for the Voluntary Sector, Candida Ronald, promised: "We remain committed to greater efficiencies while safeguarding families from the negative impact of future funding cuts."

Key findings of the consultation include protecting children's services and education, while "the most important service that the council should prioritise" was protecting vulnerable adults.


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