Residents, businesses and local organisations are being urged to take part in the council's budget consultation. This is at a time when the ongoing impact of the pandemic and reduced government funding, is placing increased pressure on both household and council budgets.
This year the council is spending £1.2 billion gross expenditure (£364.1 million net expenditure budget) on public services to support people and improve lives. Almost half of the net budget is spent on supporting children and vulnerable adults. Following more than a decade of government austerity which is continuing, the council has worked hard to save over £200mwhile protecting frontline services.
Despite challenges from cuts, increases in the number of vulnerable residents and a rising population, the council continues to invest in the services that matter to residents and has the seventh lowest council tax in London.
John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said:
"We have transformed the council over the past few years turning it around from being in the headlines for the wrong reasons to wining awards and being focused on making Tower Hamlets a cleaner, safer and fairer place for our residents.
The challenge of reduced funding and increased demand has meant we've had to adapt and change the way we deliver services with a reduced number of staff due to government cuts. Through making efficiencies we've largley protected vital frontline services from our Ideas Stores, council funded police officers, to our Free School Meals and Council Tax Reduction Scheme.
While we've had to make tough choices I'm proud of what we have achieved. We want to hear from you about your priorities as we focus on the borough's recovery from the pandemic.
The council's £3 million school meals funding means Tower Hamlets is one of only four London Boroughs to fully fund free school meals for every primary school pupil. We are protecting investment for our 12 children's centres, Idea Stores and Libraries, alongside significant funding for adult social care services.
Ongoing funding for our multi-million-pound tackling poverty programme is supporting our most vulnerable residents. In the last year our £750,000 Residents Support Scheme provided a crucial lifeline for low-income households, as has out council tax reduction scheme, one of the most generous in the country, which offers up to a 100% coucil tax discount.
The recently launched £3 million Mayors Recovery Fund features 25 targets projects to support residents, businesses and community organisations recover from the impact of the pandemic.
In addition to the extra expenditure and income pressures as a result of the pandemic, increasing demand for services and expected changes to government funding, mean that the council faces a future where further significant savings will be needed."
Councillor Candida Ronald, Cabinet Member for Resources and the Voluntary Sector said:
"Following a decade of government cuts the pandemic has challenged our community while showing the importance of well-funded public services.
Austerity for Local Government has not ended and we face difficult and uncertain financial times ahead. COVID has hit our income and we continue to face the threat of changes to the distribution of business rates which is likely to hit Tower Hamlets hard. We may well see further reductions in income for the Council.
I know any residents are facing a tough time due to the economic impact of the pandemic, the ending of the government's furlough scheme, and the planned £20 cut to Universal Credit. More than ever they need a council that is on their side and delivers for them so we want to hear from local people as we plan our budget for the year ahead."
The budget consultation is live from Monday 4th October and rns until Monday 15th November.
A budget consultation booklet, available to view via the online consultation will also be distributed to homes across the borough.
For more information contact the Tower Hamlets communications team on 020 7364 4389 or email firstname.lastname@example.org