Council agrees annual budget and package of support to help with cost of living

Published: Thursday, 3 March 2022

Havering Council yesterday (2 March 2022) agreed their annual budget and a package of support to help residents through difficult times, at the Council’s Council Tax setting meeting.

This included a Council Tax increase of 2.99 per cent which includes a 1 per cent increase, as set by Government, to support increased costs in social care.

This does not include the Mayor of London’s increase.

It also included a commitment to continue delivering frontline services such as the £12million road programme, maintaining the green spaces and leisure services, public protection including the Havering funded police officers.

This is along with one of the largest regeneration programmes in London, clean streets and a number of other services will remain unchanged.

Despite the plan to make £13million in savings, £1.35million has also been made available through making efficiencies at the Council to deliver a package of support for residents affected by increased cost of living.

What the money will support

  • Investing £1m to extend the school holiday meals scheme until Christmas 2022. This means families can still get money to buy food during school holidays now that the Government scheme has come to an end.
  • A further £250k boost to the Havering Helps Scheme. This is in addition to the half a million pounds already in the fund to help residents pay bills, buy white goods if they have broken down or support them in other ways. The scheme was first launched last year to help residents through Covid and will continue now for the rest of the year.
  • A further £30k into Community Hubs to continue the roll-out of the community food shops in Romford and the south of the borough. Currently, the Council has run a successful trial at Harold Hill where people can pay £5 and receive a whole weeks’ worth of shopping.
  • £70k will go to the Voluntary and Community and Enterprise Sector to assist our communities. This will be used to fund hot meals, access for help with food and fuel, as well as warmth and mental health support.

Councillor Damian White, the Leader of the Council, said:

“It has been a challenging year, and pressures have meant we still need to make £13m savings.

"However, we will still continue to make sure that our much valued frontline services continue to be delivered.

“I am also proud to announce that we will also provide a £1.35million package of help to see residents through these difficult times.

“The work of officers and Cabinet has allowed us to find further efficiencies so help us fund this additional support for those who need it most.

“Last year we had a package of support for residents to help them through Covid. Things have not got easier so I am pleased to be able to extend this so we can continue to offer free school holiday meals.

“Last year we also invested £1.5 million into the Havering Helps scheme where residents can get a cash grant of £100, three times a year, to help pay for utility bills, food or furniture, white goods and other help. The £250k extra will boost this further for much of this year.

“It will also complement the support from the Government of the £150 rebate to those below Council Tax Band D and an additional £700k for our borough to support people in higher bands or who don’t pay Council Tax, but also need help.

“With the pain of Covid still being felt alongside people feeling the squeeze in the cost of living – this budget sets out to support residents as best we can. It once again demonstrates that this Council is not afraid to make tough choices in order to put the wellbeing of residents front and centre of what we do.”