Newham residents will have to pay more towards council tax – to add to rising living costs and energy prices. The East London borough said the tax increase was necessary in part to pay for social care.
Council tax in Newham will increase by 2.99 per cent in the 2022/23 budget – one per cent of this will be invested in adult social care. The hike agreed on February 8 comes as many householders were reeling from significant price increases in many areas, from food shopping to energy bills. Inflation has hit 5.5 per cent – the highest since 1992.
Electricity and gas bills are also expected to increase by 50 per cent from April. These price hikes will hit people the hardest in the most deprived areas in London. Newham mayor Rokhsana Fiaz acknowledged the difficulties this would cause for residents and said the council was investing in essential services to help families.
The mayor also blamed the government for the increase in council tax. She said: “People’s finances are being stretched because of the cost of living crisis caused by high levels of inflation not seen for 30 years and decisions by the government, such as the cut of the £20 universal credit uplift, which will have a devastating impact for so many families in Newham.
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“That’s why this budget will continue our agenda of supporting our people, especially our most vulnerable, during these uncertain times. Like so many households in the borough, the council’s budget has to stretch further because since the start of the pandemic in 2020, the government hasn’t given us the money we need to cover the £29 million costs of Covid. This has hit us hard.”
The council also announced it would invest £3.7 million to support the elderly, £3.8 million for children’s services, £1 million to aid homeless people and another £1 million for families without access to public funding. The budget also allows the Eat for Free program to continue.
This gives a free meal to every nursery and primary school child. The council said this would save families in the borough around £500 a year. Councillor Terence Pall, Newham’s cabinet member for finance and corporate services, said the council would address other problem areas in Newham.
He said: ”We are already listening and acting on all of those issues that matter to residents, such as tackling the scourge of fly-tipping, improving our pavements and roads, and investing in our parks. That’s why this financial plan for the year ahead is so sound, as it builds on the solid foundations we laid in the three-year budget we set before the start of the pandemic.”