Council budget set to protect key services
The Mayor of Hackney has announced details of his first budget and pledged to protect key services and keep costs as low as possible for residents, amid continued Government cuts.
Hackney has been one of the boroughs hit hardest by the Government’s austerity measures and increasing pressures on services. Since 2010, the Council has had to find £152 million to balance its annual budget, due to cuts to the grants we receive from central Government, and rising cost pressures of £42m.
More cuts in future years mean that from 2010/11 to 2020/21, the Government’s annual grant to Hackney will have fallen by £139m, a drop of 45 per cent.
To help protect the services residents rely on or value the most, this year’s budget proposes a Council Tax increase of 3 per cent. For band D properties, this works out at 60p per week, but will raise an extra £2m a year.
The Government encourages councils to increase Council Tax by 2 per cent, to help fund social care for older and disabled people. The other 1 per cent will go towards other council services such as looking after vulnerable children, youth work, temporary accommodation and ensuring our parks and streets are kept clean.
This will be the second Council Tax rise, following a decade-long freeze, which saved average bill payers £1,400.
The budget for 2017/18 will deliver another £13.8m in savings, made through efficiencies, income generation and reducing management and the cost of providing services.
These are very challenging times for public finances across the country. Councils like Hackney, which serve populations with high levels of need, have been hit particularly hard during the austerity years, and I’m proud that we have managed this huge challenge, whilst protecting local services.
We know that it’s not been an easy time for many of our residents too, and I’m committed to keeping Council Tax as low as possible, however we cannot continue to subsidise Government cuts. That’s why I’m proposing a Council Tax rise of 3 per cent – which works out at about 60p a week for band D properties.
If we are to keep Hackney as a place for everyone, a place to be proud of, we cannot afford to let our ambitions shrink with our budget. We need to stay optimistic about the future of our borough and keep our aspirations and expectations high – and this is reflected in some of our key priorities around creating jobs and opportunities, investing in new schools and building genuinely affordable homes.
Full details of the budget will be published ahead of the full Council meeting at Hackney Town Hall on 1 March at 7pm.