Council tax frozen
By poppy_smith | Wednesday, January 16, 2013, 22:10
Islington Council has announced plans to freeze council tax, saying that many of its residents face tough enough times already without having to pay more for local services.
As it faces further deep cuts to its budget, the council is focussing resources on providing front-line services to those who most need help.
In budget papers considered by the Executive on Monday (14 January) and going to full Council on 28 February, the council has:
- made provision to pay for a £300 bursary for Islington students from low income families to help them continue studying past 16;
- committed further funding to ensure low paid workers, including those in social care, receive at least the London Living Wage (Islington was the first council to be recognised as a Living Wage employer);
- set aside £300,000 to continue its successful Energy Doctor service which provides energy saving advice and equipment to residents struggling to pay fuel bills;
- pledged £500,000 to make improvements to Archway Park, a two-acre site of local importance to nature conservation;
- committed £600,000 for town centre improvements to Finsbury Park;
- allocated over £2million of funding to improve the council's CCTV system which plays a vital part in tackling crime and anti-social behaviour.
The council faced a budget gap of £100million over the four years since April 2011 – equivalent to over one third of its total budget. Through a combination of making savings and generating additional income it has exceeded this target, but Executive member for finance Richard Greening warns that the council is not out of the woods yet.
Councillor Richard Greening said, "We continue to face the biggest cut to local government funding that has ever taken place, which makes it increasingly difficult to achieve our objective of closing the outcomes gap between Islington's least and most wealthy. But we are determined to help those who most need our support - so we will continue to fund Islington's Sure Start programme for young children despite losing £4million of Government Early Intervention Grant which had previously contributed towards this.
"Similarly we will continue to provide social care support for adults assessed as having moderate needs, making us one of only a handful of councils not to have cut back to critical or substantial care needs only. We do this because we believe these people need and deserve the support of our excellent social care teams.
"The council's officers have done a great deal of good work to meet the original £100million target, but the latest Government settlement now means we anticipate we will have to find a further £50million in the four years up to and including 2016-17."