Invest in the future: have your say on the council’s latest budget
Residents are being urged to have their say on the council’s latest budget plans, which include no cuts to frontline services as well as a multi-million-pound investment to improve the lives of families in Barking and Dagenham.
Around £11million will be invested over four years into the early help service to provide specialist early intervention to support those that need it the most, minimising the long-term cost to the taxpayer.
The service helps address issues including physical and mental health, domestic abuse, money and debt issues, addiction, as well as provide further help for parents and carers.
Another area in line for investment includes the council’s ICT systems, which have seen a significant increase in demand during the pandemic as people moved to online services due to coronavirus restrictions, such as paying rent online or applying for free school meals.
The budget plans were unveiled as part of the council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy for 2021/22 to 2025/26, which also highlighted the increasing costs the council faces, with the overall budget for 2022/23 standing at £176.9m – an increase of more than £24m from just two years ago, and which is mostly being used to meet increases in demands for services and improve social care services for vulnerable children, disabled adults and the elderly.
Despite the huge financial challenges, we have continued to deliver the frontline services residents need throughout the pandemic and we’ve helped thousands of residents and businesses to access grants and benefits to help keep them afloat during tough times.
Councillor Dominic Twomey, the council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, Performance and Core Services said: “Once again, we are left to make less money go further. It’s been no secret that there have been on-going financial pressures for a number of years now as local councils have faced a decade of government austerity cuts – then along came Covid, which has only deepened those demands.
“Even before the pandemic, Barking and Dagenham had an ever-increasing challenge on all our services, particularly housing and social care. For every £10 we spend, £7 goes on caring for the most vulnerable people in our community before we can do anything else.”
Councillor Twomey added: “Despite the huge financial challenges, we have continued to deliver the frontline services residents need throughout the pandemic and we’ve helped thousands of residents and businesses to access grants and benefits to help keep them afloat during tough times.
“We’re also providing better, affordable homes for our residents, reducing the number of local people in temporary accommodation and supporting residents and our young people into employment. And we’re moving forward with our ambitious plans to be a greener borough and carbon neutral by 2030.”
Outlined in the budget report is a proposed Council Tax increase of 1.99 per cent with an additional 1 per cent ringfenced for adult social care services. This would add around 78p per week onto a band D property (excluding the GLA element).
The approach of the council is, and continues to be, to invest in the future of the borough to generate growth and prosperity, while modernising services to meet the needs of our community at a lower cost to the taxpayer.
Councillor Twomey added: “We’ve pressed the government for a number of years now to end austerity measures, but they haven’t been forthcoming, so we have been left with little choice but to propose an increase to protect services for residents in our borough.
“The approach of the council is, and continues to be, to invest in the future of the borough to generate growth and prosperity, while modernising services to meet the needs of our community at a lower cost to the taxpayer.”
The report highlights how more than £43m in savings have already been implemented as part of the council’s transformation programme.
The cost of coronavirus is also revealed in the report, which states the income from Council Tax had reduced due to the number of Council Tax support claimants increasing due to the pandemic.
Have your say
The budget consultation is open until Thursday 3 February. Residents can have their say on the budget proposals here.
Residents can also tune in to a special budget Facebook Live Q&A with Councillor Twomey and Councillor Rodwell, Leader of the Council, on Thursday 27 January, between 6 – 7pm