Leader of Islington Council, Cllr Richard Watts, writes about the council budget and Islington Labour’s commitment to making a difference for our borough.
On Thursday 26th February, Islington Council was yet again forced to make tough choices in order to set a legal budget for the year ahead.
Since 2011, the council's funding has been cut in half by the Tory-led Government. That has meant we have had to carry out our agenda to make Islington a fairer place and to make a difference for working people, in a time of unprecedented financial pressures.
Imagine for a minute that you had to run your household with half as much money as you used to have, and you will understand the scale of what we have had to do.
The difference Islington Labour makes can be seen in our budget which protects all our libraries, children's centres, and continues to support vital adult social care. It also delivers fair pay for all our staff with our continued commitment to the Living Wage.
We have also found new ways to generate income, such as selling our expert advice in certain areas and by installing solar panels on council buildings. We’ve been able to keep job losses as low as possible, and have made some agency staff full council employees with better terms and conditions.
We were very clear at the election that we would prioritise homes, jobs and helping people with the cost of living. I know that people understand that if we had not set a legal budget, all this work to make a difference to people’s lives would have been put at risk.
I'm proud that the 47 members of the Labour Group did not duck this challenge and set a legal budget.
In contrast, the Green Party showed that they are neither serious nor up to the job of running a council. The last few weeks have shown us that their policies don’t stand-up to scrutiny, and this was the case with their amendment which proposed raiding vital funds that help us to protect the poorest people against the Tory-led Government’s welfare reforms. The Greens aren’t up to the job – just look at Brighton where they couldn’t set a budget this week or even collect the rubbish.
We are committed to making a difference for Islington, and that's what my administration will continue to do.
Cllr Richard Watts
Leader of Islington Council