Camden has been one of the boroughs most severely affected by cuts made by the Tory/Lib Dem Government. By 2017 our funding will have been slashed by half. Next year Camden will have had one of the highest cuts in the country.
With other growing social pressures in the borough, like cost of living rising and an ageing population, Camden will have to fill budget gap of £70 million by 2018.
We are already working hard to revolutionise the way we provide services so we can deliver them for less while finding new ways to generate additional income, such as the Night Time levy to pay for policing, and substantially reducing Town Hall costs. We also are lobbying the government for new powers to fine fly-tippers and introduce a Tourist tax to keep our streets clean.
Whilst the Tories are cutting taxes for millionaires, Camden Labour’s plans are focused on protecting the most vulnerable in our community and prioritising the things that make the biggest difference. We are providing:
– 25 hours affordable childcare, helping parents into work and careers
– extra support for mental health services including the launch of Camden’s first fund aimed at preventing mental ill health
– a better focus on preventing domestic violence, helping residents to live safer lives free from the fear of violence.
Camden Labour’s priorities have been demonstrated further by signing Camden up to the Ethical Care Charter to end poverty pay in the care sector, and by 2016 all direct and contracted workers for the council will be paid the London Living Wage.
We will also continue our council house building programme, using Camden’s land to solve the housing crisis. One-in-20 council house starts in the country are in Camden.
Camden has been keeping residents updated with plans to meet the financial challenge we face, and proposals were agreed by Cabinet in September and December. However, we already know that we need to prepare for further funding cuts beyond those already projected, including an estimated £20 million for 2018/19 alone.
This means some very difficult decisions need to be made, and if agreed by Cabinet in February, on Monday 2 March Full Council will consider a report which proposes that council tax is increased by 1.99%. If agreed, this would provide £1.7m per year to invest in services which could not be cut by central government like other funding can.
The sheer size of the Tory cuts to Camden means that we knew we could not consider ruling out increasing council tax to ensure that we are able to protect services for the most vulnerable people in our community. This would only be the third increase in council tax in Camden in the last 10 years and would work out at less than 40p per week for residents in a band D property. Those that can’t afford it will get the help they need to pay.
Tory/Lib Dem cuts are having a big impact on how we do things in the borough, but Camden Labour is determined to continue to protect those who need a helping hand by prioritising those services which will make the biggest difference.