Council tax hike and social care investment proposed for next Barking and Dagenham budget

Dominic Twomey. Picture: LBBD

Cllr Dominic Twomey, Barking and Dagenham's deputy leader and cabinet member for finance, performance and core services - Credit: Andreas Grieger

A hike in council tax and an £11million boost for early intervention and social care services have been proposed in Barking and Dagenham's latest budget plans.

Residents have been encouraged to have their say on the details revealed in Barking and Dagenham Council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy to 2026, which includes plans to increase the household tax by 1.99 per cent.

This would add around 78p per week to a band D property, excluding the GLA element.

Cllr Dominic Twomey, the local authority's deputy leader and cabinet member for finance, performance and core services, said this will minimise long-term costs to the taxpayer by allowing the council to “intervene earlier”.

He said: “Government is just saying if you've got financial problems, raise your council tax and pay for it that way…and then we're forced into this position where we have no choice but to do that.”

The borough's proposed £176.9m budget for 2022/23 represents an increase of more than £24m from two years ago.

The £11m injection is intended to help families, parents and carers and be put towards physical and mental health, domestic abuse, addiction or financial issues.

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Cllr Twomey said the pandemic has exacerbated existing financial pressures from government austerity cuts and increasing demand for services.

“Over the last 11 years, the government has continued to sort of strip away the grant and boroughs like ourselves that have hugely deprived populations and a huge demand on services then struggle to support these services.

“For every £10 that we spend, £7 goes on caring for the most vulnerable - 70pc of our entire budget goes on caring for the most vulnerable, whether that be children, people with disabilities, families or elderly people.”

Over the previous four years, Barking and Dagenham Council said £43m has been invested in savings as part of a plan to transform the local authority.

Cllr Twomey noted the council has delivered frontline services throughout the pandemic, providing access to grants and benefits as well as supporting residents with accommodation and employment.

Funding is also set to be allocated to the council’s ICT systems to cope with a surge in demand for online services over the pandemic, including paying rent or applying for free school meals.

The budget plan is open for feedback from residents until Thursday 3 February at https://oneboroughvoice.lbbd.gov.uk/budget-consultation-2022-23

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