Today (7th January 2015), Islington Labour published the council's budget for the year ahead (2015/16) - you can read the report here.
Once again, the massive cuts imposed on Islington by the Tory-led Government have led to tough choices having to be made. Since 2011, the council's government funding has been cut in half and this year Islington has been the 9th worst cut local council in the country.
But by sticking to the right priorities, Islington Labour is continuing to make a difference for our borough. The budget protects libraries, children's centres, leisure centres, school crossing patrols and vital services like adult social care for those with moderate needs.
Below, Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, writes about the budget and the difference we making for the borough -
Today we have published the council's budget for the year ahead.
The Tory-led Government's massive cuts to the council have meant tough choices, but I think we have the right priorities and we are making our borough a fairer place by protecting vital services in this budget.
Despite the Government cutting funding to the council in half, Islington Labour is making a difference.
We've helped our local schools achieve some of the best GCSE results in the country. In 2010, our results ranked 143rd out of 151 local areas in the country – now they’re the 34th best - and well over 90% of our schools are rated as Outstanding or Good.
Our efforts to tackle the housing crisis have seen over 1,500 new genuinely affordable homes, prioritised for local people, built since 2010 - and we have plans to deliver another 1,500 by 2019.
We’ve seen youth unemployment fall dramatically in the last year and we’ve helped hundreds of parents back into work.
And because we have the right priorities, with fairness being at the heart of every decision we take, we pay the Living Wage to more of our staff than any other council.
But we are having to make tough choices in this budget because of the cuts imposed on the council by the Tory-led Government. We will be increasing Council Tax by 1.99%, which to the average household will mean a 40p a week rise. This will still mean that Council Tax in Islington is lower than in Hackney, Haringey and Camden and lower than the London average – but it will help us to protect vital services like libraries, children's centres and school crossing patrols.
The Government’s cuts will also see dedicated staff leave the council, mostly through voluntary redundancy, and there will be fewer lorries to collect recycling, meaning some items will no longer be collected from the doorstep.
The budget proposals I’m sharing with you today show how hard it is becoming to cope with the Tory-led Government’s continued cuts, but they also show how hard we have fought to protect services and stick to the right priorities.
This budget will protect libraries, children's centres, leisure centres and swimming pools, the ecology centre, and vital services like school crossing patrols and adult social care for those with moderate needs.
But we cannot afford a government that continues with cuts at this pace and scale. That’s why we need a Labour Government to be elected on 7th May.
If you have any questions about the proposals I am sharing today, please do contact me by emailing – firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Richard Watts
Leader of Islington Council
- The council budget will be presented to a meeting of the Full Council on 26th February 2015.