Council budget continues to protect frontline services
Hackney Council has agreed a budget for 2014/15 that will make no cuts to frontline services while continuing to freeze Council Tax for the ninth consecutive year.
This year's £1.1bn budget includes funding for vital services including education, crime reduction, public health, housing, adult and children's care, parks and green spaces, and refuse and recycling collections.
The budget was set against a backdrop of unprecendented cuts in funding from central Government of £100m over four years.
Areas including Hackney, which has some of the most economically deprived residents in the country, have received disproportionately high cuts in grant funding from central Government. In order to respond to this, we have had to find new ways of working and new sources of funding and income to protect the essential services that many of our residents are reliant upon.
We have had to make tough decisions and we have seen job losses, in common with many local authorities up and down the country, and it is clear that we will have to make further tough decisions in the future. Residents may see the impact of this when they have to wait a little longer for us to resolve non-urgent issues, but our priority over the coming year is to protect the services that matter most to them, to keep our streets clean, keep our parks and libraries open and welcoming and to care for the most vulnerable members of our community.
Mayor Pipe made it clear that increasing Council Tax would not have made up for the scale of cuts imposed on Hackney by central Government. He said: "I believe that we have a responsibility to help residents who are struggling with rising bills and frozen wages. Increasing Council Tax at this time would add more financial pressure to those in need, for little benefit to services. Despite collecting 97% of what is owed each year, a 2% rise in Council Tax bills would yield only £360,000 extra which is dwarfed by the £100m cut in central Government grant."
The budget was passed at a meeting of the Full Council on Wednesday 26 February.
Background on Council Tax freezes
- Grants are provided to councils who choose to freeze Council Tax, any increase below 2% would lead to the Council losing all of this grant.
- Any increase in Council Tax above 2% would require a costly referendum, at which the public could choose to reject the increase.