Redbridge set to increase council tax to protect frontline services and regenerate borough
PUBLISHED: 11:40 05 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:18 05 February 2020
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Residents face an increased council tax bill this year as the authority says it is necessary to continue to be high-performing and make up for years of austerity.
Redbridge Council argues it has been punching above its weight since funding to local authorities was cut by central government, resulting in needing to save more than £180m over 10 years.
In order to maintain services and regenerate the borough it is proposing a 1.99 per cent increase in the base council tax and a 2pc precept to support adult social care.
The rise for someone living in the average Band D property would be £63.67 a year - once you count the increase of £11.56 by the Greater London Authority - bringing the overall total to £1,690.04 a year.
Councillor Jas Athwal, leader of Redbridge Council said that despite a decade of austerity the council has taken a pragmatic approach to ensure residents are protected from feeling the impact of those cuts.
He said: "The national funding formula treats Redbridge as the leafy, affluent outer-London borough of two generations ago: we have the eighth lowest-level of funding per head of population of any unitary council in the country and are among the lowest-funded councils for both adults and children's social care."
The council's main priority has been to protect frontline services and to make an £18m investment in protecting the vulnerable, housing and keeping Redbridge clean and safe.
Cllr Athwal told the Recorder: "These are people who have paid their taxes over the years and we want to make sure the shortfalls the government has made are looked after by this council.
"We will make sure that £18m will be well spent and certainly giving people dignity and care in later life."
The Redbridge Conservatives said the Labour budget represents a spend first policy which it says is dangerous and could lead the council to financial ruin.
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Cllr Linda Huggett, Leader of the Redbridge Conservative Group said: "Once again the Redbridge Labour administration have proposed a budget tragedy not a budget strategy for our residents. Yet another year of misery for Redbridge residents as not only will they be hit with the largest council tax increase legally possible at 3.99pc they will also get hit with the Labour Mayor of London's 3.6pc increase on last year's GLA precept.
"This budget is a huge financial burden for hard working Redbridge taxpayers. It does nothing to help local businesses at a time when our high streets are struggling and retail shops trade suffering. The night time levy is yet another tax which will severely affect our night time economy with job losses and premises closing."
The council is proposing a £10m investment in roads and highways and £14.9m towards the Ilford gyratory project.
This project will transform access to Ilford Town Centre by creating new, segregated cycle lanes and building a new bridge over the River Roding, as well as modifying Ilford Hill to be bus-only.
The council is proposing to spend £5.5m on temporary accommodation to alleviate the problem of homelessness and rough sleepers in the borough.
Cllr Athwal said it is planning to purchase properties up-front in order to save money from renting out accommodation.
Project Malachi, a pop-up homeless hostel in partnership with the Salvation Army, is scheduled to open next month and will have 42 rooms, to go along with the 32 rooms in the The Ryedale Centre in Ilford Lane, a centre that went 24-hour this month thanks to extra funding from the Mayor of London.
Figures from the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (Chain), which is commissioned and funded by the Mayor of London, showed that Redbridge had the highest number of rough sleepers among outer London boroughs between October and December last year.
The council is also investing £2.5m into business and enterprise hubs which will provide flexible workspace at affordable rates to businesses, while securing a future income stream.
To help tackle climate change, the Mayor of London awarded Redbridge council £250,000 to be one of London's Business Low Emission Neighbourhoods with a first of its kind, fast charging hub for electric vehicles being created at the council's Ley Street depot in Ilford.