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Council tax to remain frozen as Newham Council passes budget

PUBLISHED: 15:09 28 February 2017 | UPDATED: 15:21 28 February 2017

Councillors voted almost unanimously in passing the budget at Newham Town Hall, East Ham

Councillors voted almost unanimously in passing the budget at Newham Town Hall, East Ham

Archant

Councillors have agreed a budget that will make “efficiency” savings of £18.8 million and freeze council tax for the ninth consecutive year.

Cllr John Gray wanted to raise council tax by 1.99 per cent for hardship funds for Newham's poorest residentsCllr John Gray wanted to raise council tax by 1.99 per cent for hardship funds for Newham's poorest residents

The £231.5m budget for 2016/17 was approved at a full council meeting last night at Newham Town Hall, East Ham, by 43 sitting councillors.

Cllrs John Gray and John Whitworth voted against it while councillors Anamaul Islam and Obaid Khan abstained.

Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham, said: “It is a unique budget.

“I offer a budget with no frontline service cuts, no council tax cuts.”

Under the rules of a free vote, Cllr John Gray put forward an amendment to raise council tax by 1.99 per cent in order to pay for new hardship funds and to levy a 2pc precept to fund adult social care.

This was heavily defeated with 13 councillors speaking out against the “regressive” tax amendment before voting took place.

Sir Robin Wales said: “I believe our job is to help people help themselves.

“Hardship funds can be a fund that people keep using or if it is a one-off, we have already have a hardship fund – it is called MoneyWorks [the council’s loan scheme].”

Elsewhere, £38m was set aside for capital financing projects, including just under £21m for the council’s commercial residential developer Red Door Ventures.

The Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG), which ring fences spending on school staffing and maintenance, was increased by 3.5pc taking it to £399m in total.

This follows a teaching union’s warning last week that schools in Newham will receive the biggest cuts to education funding of any London borough by 2020.

Nearly £5.5m of the budget was set aside for “pressures” including £1.8m to tackle additional costs arising from homelessness and housing assistance.

Cllr Veronica Oakeshott questioned a two-thirds drop in the budget of the enforcement and safety team.

However, a council spokeswoman said the drop in revenue from 1.43m to £553,000 did not represent the whole of the team’s budget and extra revenue had been raised by fixed penalty notices.

To find out more, visit newham.gov.uk


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