Friday, February 02, 2007

0% local tax rise AND boosts for key services.

Hackney’s part of the council tax is being frozen for the second year in a row - with a 0% rise for 2007/8.

Rising collection rates and efficiency savings at the Town Hall mean Hackney’s ruling Labour group is able to put more money into key services without putting up council tax.

Highlights of the 2007/8 budget were revealed to a meeting of the full council on Wednesday.

For the fifth year running Labour Mayor Jules Pipe will be setting a balanced budget that does not have to deal with overspends in previous years.

This is also the fifth year that there are NO cuts in services in Hackney’s budget – as well as extra money to fund residents’ key priorities.

The council has made almost £4 million in efficiency savings – money which is being ploughed back into key services.

The council tax collection rate is rising and is now at 90% - up 1% on last year – bringing in more money that can be spent on key services for residents.

Hackney’s Labour mayor Jules Pipe said: “Hackney Labour is very pleased we can deliver a 0% rise in local tax for the second year in a row.

“I am committed to keeping council tax down through improving the Council’s efficiency and driving up collection rates.

“Improved council efficiency means we can also put more money into the services that matter to you.”

Labour’s 2007/8 budget means boosts for key services including:

KIDS SWIM FREE: An extra £295K to fund free access to all residents under 18 to swimming lessons during school holidays – starting this Easter.

BETTER CUSTOMER SERVICE: An extra £80K to extend the opening hours of the Hackney Service Centre from 8am-6pm Monday-Friday to 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday AND Saturday morning. More translating services for customers without English as a first language.

STREET WARDENS: Investment to secure the future for Hackney’s Street Wardens to help make our borough cleaner and safer. - In Hoxton this means our street wardens continue to be fully funded by the Council.

MORE RECYCLING: An extra £250K to roll out compulsory recycling across the borough including for plastics and to introduce blue bins for kitchen waste to all kerbside collections.

MORE TREES: An extra 500 trees on Hackney’s street this year alone – reducing our carbon footprint and making Hackney greener.

GREENER HACKNEY: An extra £1.3m to improve Hackney’s parks and green spaces

In addition, Hackney’s schools are getting an extra £11 million to continue the improvements in education in Hackney that have seen GCSE results improve from 32% in 2002 to 51% today.

Labour’s 2007/8 budget takes a further step forward and away from the financial mismanagement and instability of a hung council.

Back then, Hackney’s finances were in chaos, services were being cut and properties had to be sold to pay for the services that had to be maintained.

Since Jules Pipe became Mayor in 2002 the Council has finished every year without overspending and has put more investment into new services.