Council tax in Redbridge will go up
PUBLISHED: 10:35 06 February 2019 | UPDATED: 13:35 06 February 2019
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Central government will cut all of its grants to Redbridge over the next two years leaving the local authority reliant on council tax and business rates.
This reduction, coupled with rising costs of looking after vulnerable residents and a growing population, means that Redbridge Council will need to find an additional £33.1millon over the next five years.
Cllr Kam Rai, cabinet member for finance and deputy council leader, confirmed that while there are challenges ahead, the “books have been balanced” for the next financial year.
“We cannot solve this problem simply by reducing our administrative cost,” he said.
“There are only so many staff we can cut before we wind up shutting the libraries and care centres we are seeking to protect.
“The council’s budget for the next three years takes a different approach, focused not on cuts but investment in our services, communities and people.”
Redbridge budget breakdown:
To “offset the government reductions in funding”, a council tax increase of 2.99per cent is proposed, with an additional 1pc to support adult social care.
The increase in Band D Council Tax for Redbridge is £37.55 and adult social care precept of £12.56 giving a total local band D for 2019/20 of £1,305.86. In addition, the Mayor of London GLA element has increased by £26.28 to £320.51 giving an overall total Band D of £1,626.37
The council plans to invest £103.3m into building new homes in the coming years to overcome the severe shortage of affordable housing in the borough.
It also wants to spend an additional £70m on buying properties so as not to be reliant on privately rented accommodation.
The council will invest an extra £1m into street cleaning, litter enforcement and education to help residents take control of their areas.
The Mayor of London had given funding worth £6.45m to help regenerate the town centre.
On top of the £1.5m already pledged to install CCTV cameras and ANPR technology, the council wants to spend an additional £2m on updating camera systems to create a “ring of steel around the borough”.
A pilot will be launched at Mayfield School to tackle concerns around period poverty. Sanitary products will be given out to pupils using funding worth £9,000.
The council will invest £6.1m into rolling out the London Living Wage to all council contracts when they come up for renewal and will encourage Redbridge employers to do the same.
8)High street fund
A £250,000 fund will be set up to improve high streets - other than Ilford - in the borough.
“We want Redbridge to be a great place to live and we refuse to let irresponsible national cuts stand in our way,” Cllr Rai added.
“This budget plan will deliver more of the high-quality housing, better streets and support for the vulnerable that our residents want and deserve.
“Central government may be abandoning our communities, but locally we want to step up with bold investments in a better future.”
Conservative councillor, Paul Canal, has accused the Labour administration of “Grand Theft Redbridge”.
“This is not a budget strategy, it is a budget tragedy,” he said.
“Not only have Redbridge residents been hit with the highest council tax increase in London, at 3.99pc, they have been hit with a double whammy by the Mayor of London’s record 8.93pc increase in his precept.
“This budget is an unaffordable burden on the shoulders of hard working Redbridge council taxpayers. It is also a slap in the face for local businesses.
“At a time when our retail business are struggling, the doubling in cost of business parking permits is unjustifiable.
“They have spent millions on new paving (then dug them up again) yet left our streets filthy, our bins unemptied and as recycling rates plunge, they are now charging for recycling boxes.
Cllr Canal added that with record levels of tax increases, record borrowing, record levels of debt, the budget shows that “Labour have not learned from the disastrous years under Gordon Brown”.
He warned that residents and businesses will have to “pick up the bill and clear up the mess”.
Leader of the council, Councillor Jas Athwal said: “The Tories locally never accept the responsibility of the punitive cuts on councils by their government and the mess they left Redbridges finances in 2014.
“We have been repairing that damage and for all their blusters the residents have resoundingly seen through it.”
The revenue and capital budget proposals will be scrutinised by councillors next week at a cabinet discussion on February 12.