Barking Town Hall

Council approves 2024/25 budget while calling for fairer funding deal

Barking and Dagenham Council has agreed its budget for 2024/25, against a backdrop of severe financial pressures which councils are facing across the country. 

The financial plans, approved at a full Assembly meeting on Wednesday 28 February, outlined the key drivers for the council’s budget pressures, including inadequate government funding, coupled with inflation and rising costs for essential services, particularly in children’s and adult services. 

Councillor Dominic Twomey, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, Growth and Core Services said, “This is without doubt, the most challenging budget we have ever had to set. We have a strong track record of managing our finances carefully, but the government has failed to fund us properly, based on our community's needs.  

“In Barking and Dagenham, we have high levels of deprivation and we’re seeing growing demand for services as residents face increasing hardship with the ongoing cost of living crisis.  And for every £10 we have, around £6 is spent on adult and children’s social care. 

“At the same time, we’re one of the fastest changing communities in the country today. 33,000 more people call the borough home compared to 10 years ago and one in four residents are under 16.  

“But the government hasn’t matched this growth. In fact, our funding has reduced by 40% since 2010, adding huge pressure to our overstretched budgets.  

“In response, we have protected statutory services and we’re doing everything we can to right size the council and balance our budget. It has been a huge effort as we scrutinise everything that we do, making sure we get value for money from every pound we spend.” 

As part of the budget announcement, Council Tax will increase by 4.99% from April (excluding the GLA element) - 2.99% towards the general fund and 2% ringfenced for social care. This works out as an additional £1.40 per week on an average Band D property.  

Councillor Twomey added: “We shouldn’t be forced into Council Tax rises, but this government has left us with no choice. It’s a difficult decision for us to make and we know it won’t be welcome news. But without further backing from the government, we have to raise Council Tax to help ease the severe pressures on our budget. 

“The government appears to have abandoned councils and the people we serve. They need to do the right thing, by finally stepping up and funding councils like ours adequately, based on our population and deprivation levels. And we need longer term settlements, to allow us to sustainably plan our services for the future. 

“Local government is crying out for a better deal. It’s what our residents need and deserve. So, we’re calling on the government, in the strongest possible terms, to provide fairer funding so we can provide the services and support our community needs.” 

“We know our residents are disproportionately affected by the cost-of-living crisis, so we’ll continue to do all we can to support people who are struggling to make ends meet. If you’re finding it hard to stay on track, please do reach out to find out how we can help you.” 

The council has established a network of Community Hubs and worked closely with community partners to form a Cost-of-Living Alliance, providing essential support with energy costs, money concerns, food, and wellbeing

Cllr Twomey added: “Despite the pressures, we continue to be a borough of huge ambition. In the last few years, we have secured over £4 billion of inward investment and approved permission for over 10,000 new homes, our two film studios (the second one opens later this year) and the three wholesale markets of London.  

“This is on top of world-class scientific facilities at London East in Dagenham. And we have left no stone unturned in working to secure more jobs through the Thames Freeport.  

“We’ll continue to do everything we can to secure investment and create new partnerships to deliver the homes, jobs and opportunities our community needs.”