More for homes, care, libraries and parks as Havering Council approves budget for the future
The Council has agreed its budget proposals for 2020/2021 at the Council Tax Council on Wednesday 26 February.
- no library closures, longer opening hours and £375k investment in improved computer access for the public
- more health workers
- investment in parks
- more homes for local people
- significant investment in high streets
- investing £13 million for additional council homes.
It has also agreed to raise Council tax by 1.95 per cent, with a total increase of 3.95 per cent when including the social care precept of 2 per cent. When including the Greater London Authority precept, this represents an increase of £1.29 per week on an average band D property.
This is set against many years of austerity, where the council has had to make year-on-year savings. This year the Council will still need to find £14.5 million savings.
Damian White, the Leader of Havering Council, said:
“We have agreed a progressive budget that continues to invest in the services that matter to the residents of Havering without cutting any back. We will still deliver street cleaning, social care, rubbish collection, great parks and a whole host of other services.
“In this budget we are not closing, but extending the hours of libraries. Building more homes for local people. Investing in health workers, planning a new leisure centre and much, much more.
“We are not out of the woods yet and we still need to find £14.5 million in savings, this still means we need to raise council tax to help towards delivering our services.
“There is good news though that the Government have signified the end of austerity. This year we have seen a Boris Bounce with some additional investment which is allowing us to reverse some of the difficult choices we made last year on parking.”
Budget in more detail
Investing in services
The Council continues to protect valued services such as the weekly bin collection and invest in additional policing.
It is well on track to deliver the four year £40 million roads investment (2019/20- 2022/23) which has already seen 22,209 metres of roads and 19,956 metres of pavements resurfaced alongside over 1,000 potholes filled.
The Council’s Transformation Programme is delivering improvements to services as well as cash savings through efficiency.
In this year’s budget there will be additional investment in the following.
Following extensive consultation with residents, no libraries will be closed.
They will instead receive additional investment:
- of £200k each year to increase opening hours
- plus a one-off £375k for extra capital investment to improve internet access in libraries.
Parks and leisure facilities will see new investment:
- to improve Harrow Lodge Park Lake and remove the silt
- to continue improvements in parks
- to obtain planning permission and build a new leisure centre in Rainham following a ‘community conversation’ - keeping a promise from last year
- to complete the new Hornchurch Sports Centre which will be open in the autumn.
We will continue to build new homes for local people, improve our estates and invest in our high streets, by:
- providing a multi-million investment from council and through Town Centre regeneration to support local business
- making available a £13m pot of money for more affordable homes for those in need. 33 properties have already been bought to make sure they can be used for local families that need them
- increasing the number of affordable homes through our joint venture regeneration schemes. In particular, after listening to our residents, we have increased the number of family sized homes
- purchasing homes on a new estate in Crow Lane, Romford to add much needed larger family homes. There is an acute shortage of four bedroom affordable housing
- bringing forward the delivery of new homes due to our unique Joint Venture arrangement with Wates.
- developing a new Welcome and Assessment centre for homeless families in Harold Hill, so those local people who are unfortunate enough to lose their homes will have somewhere decent to stay while they find somewhere more permanent.
The Council will continue supporting those who are most vulnerable in our society.
Additional support will be given through:
- increasing its investment in the borough’s health visiting team by £3.5m over the next three years to employ an extra 15 staff. This will include health visitors, community nurses and nursery nurses. The additional staff will support vital health and development checks for mums and babies by providing specialist support for breast feeding, maternal mental health and preparation for school.
- recruiting new Local Area Coordinators from the community, who will approach, or be introduced to people, who may be isolated, causing concern or are at risk of needing formal services. Coordinators support people to build their own vision for a good life, drawing on family and community resource, before considering statutory services. This work will lead to reduce costs for Havering as a result of people requiring less assessment, intervention and expensive ongoing care.
The Council still needs to balance the budget and has pressures of £65 million over the next four years.
Most of these pressures are offset by planned savings, an additional social care grant of £3.7m and council tax with this year seeing a proposed rise of 3.95 per cent.
This includes the council proposed rise of 1.95 per cent and the social care precept of 2.00 per cent.
The Council has balanced the 2020/21 budget but has a remaining gap of £17.6m which will be met by 2023/24 through continued efficiencies and other transformational savings.