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Havering Cabinet considers Council's budget

Published: Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Havering Council’s Cabinet will on Wednesday consider the Council’s proposed budget.

The budget sets out how the Council will manage its finances for the next financial year.

The budget proposals include boosts for important areas such as continued investment in the borough’s roads, more investment in community safety and enforcement, parks and leisure.

It includes an additional £10million of capital expenditure to make sure the road and pavement improvement programme continues over the next two years.

So far 60 miles of the worst roads and pavements have been improved since 2019, and this money makes sure that more residents will benefit from these improvements. 

Public order and enforcement see an extra £5m for new CCTV cameras across the borough to replace the currently aging system. And funding of £300k per annum will continue for six dedicated police officers to continue to respond to Havering specific issues.

Following the upcoming opening of the new Harrow Lodge leisure centre in Hornchurch, the budget proposals include the necessary funding to open a new multimillion pound leisure centre in the South of the borough at Rainham in 2022.

The borough’s loved parks will see investment of £1.6m million. Last year two new green flags were won and the Council will make sure that the borough’s parks and playing fields will remain great places for people to enjoy and exercise in, subject to Covid restrictions.

The Council will still deliver weekly rubbish collections and street cleaning will be maintained at the current levels after seeing investment in the last budget.

Support for the borough’s communities will continue with funding for the new Virtual Community Hub being maintained and four additional Local Area Coordinators being recruited for the Harold Hill, Rainham and South Hornchurch areas.

The Council will continue to offer free parking on Sundays, free parking in on-street bays in Romford, Havering and Rainham, a 20 per cent discount for all those using the RingGo online parking app and free Havering Heroes parking for key workers.

The Council will maintain its status as one of the most efficient in the country. This includes continued improvement in technology so Council staff can better support residents. The Council will also look at how it uses its buildings and front line services such as libraries to make it easier for residents to access services.

Cabinet will also hear that the Council will still need to make further savings and efficiencies of £17.1 million pounds as part of these proposals which will come from greater efficiency, the continued transformation of how the Council delivers services to the borough’s communities and improved technology to offer 24/7 online access for residents.

As part of this, the Council will also have to consider a general Council tax increase of 1.50 per cent.

The Council tax will increase by a further 3 per cent specifically to fund Social Care which is how central government has asked authorities to bridge their funding gaps for this area. 

Following Cabinet agreement this will go to the annual Council Tax Council for final agreement by councillors.

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

“We have had some hard years in the past that became even harder as the pandemic hit us.

"However, our sound financial planning and additional support from the Government has meant we have continued to provide the services residents want.

“The proposals being put forward take all this into account, and I am proud of how we have responded in these difficult times.

"This has included investment in our roads, parks, public safety and communities.

"We will still deliver the services that matter most, like weekly rubbish collections, excellent leisure facilities and green spaces.

“We have supported our most vulnerable in a number of ways from providing grants to pay for heating bills and white goods to offering free school meals funding.

“However, we still need to balance the books and we will see a shortfall of £17 million in required savings. This budget sets out how we will do this.

“We will also have to consider a rise in Council tax of 1.50 per cent. And an additional 3 per cent Government precept to support the most vulnerable in our society. 

“It can’t be underestimated the dedication of our staff to deliver vital and efficient services to our residents and I am pleased to say our proposals continue to reflect this for the next year.”