Council Budget 2022/2023
Last night, Councillors and the Mayor agreed the budget for the year ahead, which outlines the investments Hackney Council is making to continue to run essential services and rebuild a greener, fairer, safer and healthier Hackney out of the Covid pandemic.
The budget sadly includes a Hackney Council Tax increase of 2.99%. It means most residents will pay less than £1 extra a week, for the Council element of the Council Tax, but will ensure the Council can raise more than £2.7m to fund services for residents at a time when they need them most.
Hackney will continue to have one of the lowest Council Tax rates in London. The Council will work with residents and advice agencies to ensure that eligible, vulnerable households can claim Council Tax discounts and access long-term, affordable repayment plans if they are facing difficulty.
The Council is ensuring more people than ever are eligible for help by using every funding pot available to support those who have been hardest hit by the events of the past 24 months and the rising cost of living. This is on top of the additional £1m invested, since 2020, on tackling inequality and poverty in the borough. It is also investing more in supporting local organisations to provide advice and support for those experiencing financial difficulties.
Council Tax allows the Council to continue to provide vital services we all need, from waste and recycling to parks and libraries; from social care for children and adults to measures to reduce poverty; from resources to tackle the climate emergency to community safety and services and activities for young people; and from helping people find jobs or access training to providing temporary accommodation for homeless residents.
Next year based on this budget, we are planning to invest:
- Around £71 million on our regeneration and new council home-building programmes.
- £13.6m on youth and early help services for families, including our four youth hubs and six adventure playgrounds.
- £44m on improving and maintaining council homes.
- £3m on town centre regeneration in order to help businesses recover from the pandemic and ensure an inclusive and fair recovery.
- £23m on maintaining Hackney’s 58 parks, gardens and open spaces and seven sport and leisure centres, including £4.5m in the London Fields Lido learning pool; more than £4m in repairs at Kings Hall Leisure Centre (Hackney Baths); and more than £1.27m into play area refurbishments.
- £4m on improving our libraries, including £2.65m into Stoke Newington Library.
- Nearly £15m on education facilities, including £1.3m on our programme to increase the number of in-borough SEND places.
- £24m in projects over the next three years to contribute to achieving our ‘Net Zero’ green target.
- £10m to help make Hackney safer through investment in our Integrated Gangs Unit; enforcement team; focus on hate crime and work to ensure the safety of women in our borough.
- £0.5m on refurbishments and reconfiguration of properties to provide more than 80 flats, including 6/7 disabled units, of temporary accommodation in the borough.
We’ve now experienced two traumatic years of the Covid pandemic, and we - as a Council - continue to remember everyone who has died and those impacted by the loss of a loved one.
Residents are experiencing some of the toughest economic impacts in a generation, and the Council will do everything in its power to protect the most vulnerable and the services they depend on.
The pandemic has also taken an unprecedented toll on the Council’s finances. We experienced a serious loss of income and there remains a rising demand in adults’ and children’s social care; and from residents seeking housing and welfare support. We are also supporting more children with special educational needs than ever.
We continue to suffer from the impact of the criminal cyberattack that affected most of our IT systems and I know this has knocked trust and confidence in the Council. We are making substantial investments in our recovery, accelerating our technology plans and working with industry leading experts to ensure that we have the modern, user friendly systems we need to continue to improve our services to residents and the best possible cyber protections in place. All of our services are now available to residents, but I know it can still be challenging and in a number of key areas our service teams are continuing to work hard to address backlogs of work that occurred as a result of the attack and we are continuing the work to restore full system functionality. Throughout our recovery work we have prioritised residents in greatest need - including housing benefits and other financial support.
Given the cost of living crisis, we are also working hard to ensure that the Government’s Council Tax rebate - of £150 to residents in Bands A-D homes - is distributed quickly. We’re encouraging residents to sign up to pay Council Tax by Direct Debit to speed up receipt of this payment.
We have less money now than in any other time in recent history to maintain our vital services you rely on. This means that, like most other councils, we will have to raise Council Tax this year - by 2.99%.
We know any rise can have an impact on those on fixed incomes but it is absolutely necessary to fund services - which remain exceptional value-for-money - such as bin collections, street cleaning, social care, youth services, adult and children’s social care and helping homeless people.
This increase is something we do with extreme reluctance - but the Government expects us to and allocates us money on the assumption we do it. However, 29,000 of our most vulnerable households will be protected through the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, which also exempts care leavers in Hackney and of course our discretionary grants. We will also focus on long term poverty reduction, including tackling holiday hunger, the digital divide and fuel poverty.
Despite the financial strains, we remain ambitious for the borough and continue to deliver for our residents. In the past year, we: opened the new Britannia Leisure Centre; started major improvements to our town centres; planted thousands of street trees; refurbished our play parks and public toilets; hosted pop-up community vaccine clinics to help thousands get their jabs; supported 20,000 families facing holiday hunger; delivered our first high-needs rough sleeper housing with support scheme; supported hundreds of people into employment, training and apprenticeships; prevented homelessness for 700 households, assisted 450 people either rough sleeping or at imminent risk of rough sleeping, backed our cultural sector to reopen through a dedicated grant; and made £1m of additional investment in Housing Services to clear the repairs backlog caused by the pandemic.