A budget that s on your side

A RECORD-breaking fifth year of frozen Council Tax with no cuts to frontline services is the cornerstone of Hackney’s budget for the coming financial year.

For the fifth successive year Hackney’s part of the Council Tax will not increase, as part of the 2010/11 budget agreed at a meeting of full Council on 3 March, and which comes into effect from April.

In 2010/11 the Council will be investing £187 million into education for more than 10,000 children and young people including in primary and secondary schools and nurseries, as well as £72 million on services such as youth clubs, training for work, and care for disabled children.

A total of £66 million is to be spent on cleaner streets and better roads, involving maintenance of nearly 11,000 street lights, and a total of 296 miles of roads swept daily.

The Council will also be spending a total of £119 million on adult social care in the coming financial year, to include 640,000 hours of home care, 160 nursing home placements, and support for vulnerable young people to make the transition into adulthood.

Mayor Jules Pipe said: “Hackney Council is on the side of residents through difficult economic times. I know that the past year has been difficult for many residents due to the economic climate and I hope that by keeping the Council Tax down we can help to make life a little easier. We are the only authority in the country to be freezing Council Tax for five years in a row, and it has been achieved alongside record investment in services."

The District Auditor, a government financial watchdog, has said in a report that Hackney has one of the strongest balance sheets in London , and during recent years the Council has made over £40 million in efficiency savings, funds which are being reinvested into the services that matter most to local people. These savings are the highest in London and the third highest in the country, and have come from a number of sources including improved Council Tax and Housing Rent collection rates, improved benefits processing, and improvements to working practices.

Rose Hayes, Chair of Age Concern Hackney, said: "We are naturally pleased that the Council has been able to keep a five year freeze on the level of the Council Tax, whilst finding extra money for much needed services like our Coldline project, which helps older people struggling with fuel poverty. It makes life a little easier for older people in the borough."

John Denham MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said: "Hackney s fifth Council Tax freeze in a row shows how local authorities can balance efficiency with fairness, keeping tax low, and cutting waste whilst at the same time investing in the services that matter 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.

Here is what some of Hackney’s 2010/11 budget is to be spent on:

£187 million on education
This is for more than 10,000 children and young people and will include primary and secondary schools as well as nurseries

£119m on adult social care
The Council provides social care for some of the borough’s most vulnerable people, and this funding will help supply 640,000 hours of home care and 160 nursing home places

£72 million on support for young people
This includes continued funding for 12 youth clubs; care packages for 130 disabled children; and 1,300 young people helped by the Council’s Youth Offending Team

£11m on refuse and recycling
This will help residents recycle household, food and garden waste through around six million recycling collections, as well as 8.5 million general waste collections

£25 million in improving public safety
The Council works with the police to continue the huge drop in crime Hackney has achieved during recent years. The funding will go towards tackling crime and keeping Hackney safe, including paying for 27,000 camera hours of CCTV footage to help police catch offenders, as well as 3,500 building control inspections, dealing with licence applications and enforcement

£9million for eight libraries and a community archive
Each year over 1.3 million people visit Hackney’s libraries, with 36,000 visitors to Hackney Museum – this funding includes over £3million to build the new Dalston Square library, and £500,000 per year to run it

£5million for parks
This will be for managing and maintaining 318 hectares of Hackney s 62 parks and green spaces. Hackney has more green space than any other inner London borough, and nine parks have been judged to be amongst the best in Britain after receiving Green Flag awards

£4million for sports and leisure
This is to go towards developing sports activity and helping to improve the health and wellbeing of residents, as well as refurbishments and improvements at Britannia and Kings Hall leisure centres. Hackney has some of the best leisure facilities around, including the Lido at London Fields, as well as Clissold Leisure Centre, the only such facility in the capital to receive an ‘excellent’ QUEST industry rating