Council leader reveals ‘investment budget’ for Barking and Dagenham

Cllr Darren Rodwell is the leader of Barking and Dagenham Council

Cllr Darren Rodwell is the leader of Barking and Dagenham Council - Credit: Archant

The borough’s budget for the coming financial year has been branded an “investment budget” by council leader Darren Rodwell.

Barking and Dagenham Council faced making savings of £63 million by 2020, but intends to reduce that deficit to £15.1m through a four-year plan.

“At the moment, 84 per cent of our income comes from the government,” Cllr Rodwell said. “We want to change that and become more self-sufficient.”

Among the proposed investments is £750m to build 10,000 new homes across the borough.

This will include 2,000 properties, created under the Barking and Dagenham Reside scheme, that will be available for people to rent for less than the market rate.

Currently, more than 600 properties have been built under the council’s homebuilding scheme, with a further 200 near to completion.

Cllr Rodwell said: “They will be affordable to a single person on the London Living Wage or a couple earning minimum wage.

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“A lot of them are at 50pc or 65pc of the market value, with some at 80pc that will subsidise the 50pc ones.”

Other investments include a new fleet of dustcarts, improved play facilities and a youth zone, which is set to open next year.

Deputy leader of the council, Cllr Dominic Twomey, said that council staff had been offered voluntary redundancy, with 240 out of 3,000 employees accepting it.

He said: “I think it was the right thing to do. They weren’t forced to go, they wanted to go.

The money saved by those staff leaving and subsequent efficiencies would plug part of the funding gap for the next financial year, he added.

The gap will also be addressed by a council tax rise of 4.99 per cent, or £53.80 a year for a band D property.

This includes a 3pc social care precept, which means the money will be used solely to pay for adult social care.

Cllr Twomey said that this would collect around £1.5million, leaving the council to find a similar amount from elsewhere to plug the £3m gap.

He added: “We didn’t raise council tax for seven years in this borough. That would have seen us get about £15m.”