Council budget protects frontline services

Hackney Council has agreed a budget for 2013/14 that will make no cuts to frontline services.

The £1.1billion budget which this year includes funding for public health for the first time, will be spent on essential services including education, crime reduction, housing, adults and children’s care, refuse collection, parks and green spaces, and recycling.
 This is despite government cuts that have seen £82 million taken out of the Council’s budget over four years, including this financial year.  
Commenting on the budget, Mayor of Hackney Jules Pipe said: “We have managed to find that money without making a big impact on the frontline services that our residents receive. We have made, and are continuing to make, every effort to find efficiencies, through renegotiating contracts with suppliers, through sharing systems with other Councils, and through raising additional revenue where we can, but finding the savings has not been without difficulty. There have been job losses, as we have cut our back office functions right across the organisation, and taken a lot of management posts out of the Council.”
 “While residents will see no reduction in essential services, Mayor Pipe warned that continued cuts to back office and administrative functions would have an impact. He said:  “Residents may find that they have to wait a little longer for phones to be answered, or for non-urgent issues to be resolved, but the important day-to-day services such as waste collection, street-cleaning, parks maintenance, and libraries, on which so many residents value, will not be reduced in the next financial year, and we will continue to prioritise services that protect children and vulnerable adults.” 
Council Tax has also been frozen for the eighth year in a row, going some way towards assisting hard-pressed residents. Any increase in Council Tax above two percent would allow the Government to deduct half of that amount from the grant we receive, and would have required a costly local referendum, resulting in little benefit either to the Council or Hackney residents.  
The budget was passed at a meeting of the Full Council on Wednesday 28 February.