Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales is facing tough budget decisions


- Credit: Newham Cll PR

In just over a week’s time I will present to Newham’s councillors how I propose we spend our money on the things that residents say matter most.

We face budget pressures like never before and in the next financial year, Newham residents are set to generally pay more while the government pays less to fund council services.

It plans to phase out the grant it provides to councils by the end of the current Parliament. That means funding arrangements shift from national taxation to local taxation through things like council tax and business rates.

This year the chancellor expects us to increase council tax by two per cent and spend the extra funds it raises on the costs of adult social care. This Social Care Precept will do little in an area like Newham where unprecedented cuts coupled with increasing levels of need create significant challenges. I also believe it is unfair for local taxpayers to foot the cost of social care because it should be the government’s job.

Since 2013 the council has faced cuts in grant funding worth £111million and we are set to lose a further £34million by 2020. They are a great deal harsher than in many more affluent places whose residents don’t rely so heavily on council services.

Crucially, we have managed those reductions – the worst in living memory – without cutting frontline services. Through prudent planning, sound financial management, and a new and efficient approach to delivering services, we have maintained the things that mean most to residents. That is why today we are no longer in the 20 most deprived areas in the country compared to six years ago, and we are becoming more resilient every year.

What is emerging from our consultation is overall you are satisfied with the way we are running things and want us to continue ensuring the borough is clean and safe and that the vulnerable are protected.

Whatever decisions we make, we will take into account your aspirations and concerns; we will continue to save money through being more efficient in what we do; we will keep local taxation as low as possible; and we will do all we can to support you through this current challenging economic climate. More from Sir Robin

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