Newham council tax hike a step closer as mayor accuses government of breaking Covid-19 funding promise
- Credit: Ken Mears
The town hall is a step closer to raising council tax by five per cent to help cover the cost of Covid-19.
Mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz, accused the government of breaking a promise to fully meet the cost, leaving the local authority with the "hard choice" of raising the tax to help plug a hole in its coffers.
Ms Fiaz said: "With the limited amount the government is giving us, we're having to make some tough decisions, but we are not going to cut this council to the bone."
She added Newham's council tax is the lowest among outer London local authorities.
The rise represents an average monthly increase of £4.34 for a Band D property and £3.89 for Band C. Three per cent of the increase is ring-fenced for adult social care.
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Speaking at a cabinet meeting on Thursday, February 18, Ms Fiaz pledged to continue helping struggling workers, families and business owners.
Among its Covid-19 measures, Newham is providing hotel rooms for people from overcrowded homes who need to self-isolate but can't afford to.
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A £300,000 Mayoral Covid-19 hardship relief fund to help those worst affected by the pandemic also forms part of the budget.
The pandemic has cost the council £12m more than the £68m provided by government.
A local government funding settlement announced in December fails to provide sustainable funding, council papers state. By law, councils have to balance their books.
Newham plans to make £43m worth of cuts and savings by 2022-23. This includes £30m this financial year.
The budget includes reviewing a £200 cap on care charges, introducing a garden waste collection charge and restructuring some council departments.
Also included is a 1.5pc increase on all council-owned rented homes.
Ms Fiaz said Covid-19 brought into sharp focus "the absolutely criminal" lack of government funding in public health.
"This budget responds to the public health crisis we've all been challenged by," she said, describing Newham's response as exemplary.
But she criticised the government for not revealing what Newham's public health grant will be next financial year, describing it as "an outrage."
Cabinet members approved the budget which goes before full council on March 1.