Services getting £20 million investment in budget as taxes rise for first time in a decade

Cllr Rokhsana Fiaz

Cllr Rokhsana Fiaz - Credit: Rokhsana Fiaz

Council services are getting a £22.1 million boost compared to last year in the proposed 2019/20 budget.

Newham Council is touting it as the ‘biggest investment into Children’s Services in a generation’.

As part of the provisions, £1.4m more would be put into youth services, £10.6m more into Children’s Services and £6.3m given to maintain free primary school meals.

Services make up £214.5m of the total £260.63m allocated in the budget, which was approved by the cabinet on February 5.

It is due to be decided on at a full council meeting on February 18.

The changes come as the Rokhsana Fiaz administration establishes its priorities in the first budget since the end of Robin Wales’ tenure as Mayor.

Councillor Terence Paul, lead member for finance and corporate services, said: “This budget will allow the council to invest more money in the services truly valued by our residents.

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“We have been able to put £22.1million into some of our most valued services, whilst also protecting our most vulnerable residents with changes to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS).

“All of this has been achieved with an increased payment of just 89p per week from band D properties for the Newham element of the council tax bill.”

The increased expenditure will be funded by a 2.9 per cent increase in the Newham element of the Council Tax, a two per cent increase in the Adult Social care precept and efficiency savings.

This is a departure from Robin Wales, who froze council tax for a decade.

But the council says it will still have the lowest council tax of any outer London borough.

There have also been cuts to fund the new spending regime.

Every Child a Musician, a programme that provides free tuition and instruments to primary school children, has been slashed in order to fund Eat For Free, a scheme that provides free school meals at primary schools.

To protect the 19,000 lowest income households, the proposed changes to CTRS would see eligible residents pay 10 per cent of their council tax, giving band D households projected savings of £118.62, according to the council.

Cllr Fiaz, said: “This budget will allow us to begin to implement the promises on which I was elected last year.

“This will ensure that we can enable, push and advance our young people and their talent in a fulfilling way.”