London,
01
March
2009
|
00:00
Europe/London

A budget that s on your side

A BUDGET THAT’S ON YOUR SIDE

Investment in services for residents of all ages is at the heart of the Council s spending plans for the coming financial year – and at no extra cost.

For the fourth successive year Hackney’s part of the Council Tax will not increase, as part of the 2009/10 budget agreed at a meeting of full Council last night (4 March), and which comes into effect from April.

A total of £185 million will be spent on education in the borough, including nurseries, primary schools, and secondary schools - this represents an increase of £11.4 million on last year. In addition, an extra £380,000 will be invested to further expand youth services.

An extra £1.2 million is also being put into increasing street sweeping, graffiti and fly-poster removal, and litter-picking.

Swimming at Council pools, currently free for all under-18s during school holidays, will be extended throughout the year, and for the first time charges for residents aged 60 and over will be abolished at Clissold, King’s Hall and Britannia leisure centres.

A further £2.1 million will be invested in improving and restoring Clapton Library and £3.3 million will be used to create a new library and archive in Dalston, replacing the existing CLR James Library.

There will also be investment of £162,000 to further ensure effective child protection services, and £230,000 spent to provide 10,000 more hours of home care for adults.

Mayor Jules Pipe said: “In difficult economic times, Hackney Council is on your side – our share of the Council Tax is to be frozen at the same level for the fourth year running, while this will be the seventh year with no cuts to frontline services.

“Hackney is the only authority in the country to be freezing its Council Tax for so many consecutive years, while we continue to invest in what matters most to residents.

“Residents rightly expect their local authority to be efficient, well run, and provide high quality services. I am committed to improving Council services, whilst at the same time ensuring Hackney residents continue to receive value for money from their Council Tax.”

Thanks to consistently strong, well-managed finances the Council will be making over £8 million of efficiency savings, which is being reinvested into the services that matter most to local people.

Residents will see no increase in their Council Tax bills this year, due to Hackney’s part of the tax being kept at 2005 levels, as well as a freeze on the Greater London Authority’s (GLA) element.

London-wide services such as the Metropolitan Police, public transport, and the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games are paid for by the GLA’s share of the Council Tax.

Notes for editors
Please find below examples from Hackney’s 2009/10 budget:

Building Schools for the Future (BSF)
In the year ahead, a further three schools will see the benefits of the second phase of the BSF programme, a scheme to refurbish or rebuild ten secondary and special schools in the borough.

Education and schools
This year £185 million will be invested in education, including in Hackney s nurseries, primary and secondary schools. This builds on successes in the past 12 months, when GCSE results continued to improve with 55% of Hackney pupils receiving five or more A*-C grades at GCSE. Hackney’s Primary school Key Stage 2 results were also the most improved in England.

Youth activities
Team Hackney is to provide £3.7 million over the next two years to fund positive activities for young people, such as sports, arts, leadership, school activities and specialist provision for young offenders. This will build on the popularity of last year’s activities, which saw 31% of young people aged 13-19 attending at least one Council-backed youth project, a 9% increase on 2007/08 and above the national benchmark of 25%. The Council is also investing an additional £380,000 into Youth Services this year, continuing the investment which has seen a further £1.5m put into the service during the last three years.

Foster care
Investment of £300,000 will provide intensive foster care support to young people with complex needs. A grant of £529,000 from the Government’s Care Matters strategy has also been awarded to help improve the life chances of children in foster and social services care. This follows on from the Council’s Children’s Service receiving a ‘3 star’ rating last year and Adoption and Fostering Services being rated as ‘good throughout’, following an independent inspection by Ofsted.

Learning difficulties
To help provide care services for adults with learning difficulties, the Council has set aside £750,000 this year.

Parks
Seven parks have now achieved Green Flag status in total, up from four in 2007, and for 2009/10 the Council has allocated £690,000 for further improvements to Shoreditch Park.

Help for disabled young people
This year the Council will be spending £368,600 on services to provide support for disabled children, young people and their families.

Cleaner streets
An additional £1.2 million pounds is to be invested in services to sweep Hackney’s streets, the Council teams that remove graffiti and fly-posters, and litter picking will also be increased.

Recycling
A greener Hackney is one of the Mayor’s top priorities, and an extra £576,000 will be spent in 2009/10 to ensure the borough recycles more and more of its waste. Last year the Council extended its compulsory recycling scheme and achieved a huge increase with over 6,500 more tonnes recycled in 2008 than in 2007. In December, 2008, 270 tonnes of recycling collected was from estates following the introduction of a new scheme. It is the largest amount in any month since the service was introduced in 2003.

Better roads, safer streets
The Council’s programme to upgrade or replace all street lighting by 2010 is to receive investment of £2 million this year, while £4 million will be spent on improvements to roads and pavements.

Libraries
There will be major investment in Hackney’s libraries in 2009/10, with
£2.1 million to be spent on improving and restoring Clapton Library, and £3.3 million will be used to create a new library and archive in Dalston, to replace the existing CLR James Library.

Free swimming for young and old
Healthier living will soon be more affordable, with the extension of the popular free swimming for under-18s scheme to run all year round, and to also include residents aged 60 and above, as of 1 April, at Clissold, Britannia and King’s Hall leisure centres. The Council continues to invest in and improve its leisure facilities, with six achieving Customer Service Excellence status last year, 5 receiving Quest accreditation, while Clissold Leisure Centre was recognised for its accessible facilities for people with disabilities.

Decent Homes
Hackney Homes achieved a two-star, ‘good’ rating from the Audit Commission in February, which frees up extra Government funding of £225 million towards the Decent Homes programme. This year £40 million will be spent on the next phase of work, which is to bring kitchens and bathrooms in 7,000 households up to modern standards by 2012. A total of £2.5 million will also be spent on maintenance for estates, after work with resident groups to help identify the areas that most need investment.

Private housing
A total of £100,000 will be spent on providing special needs adaptations to private sector homes, to help owners or tenants live in their own homes for longer.