Homes, safety, jobs and the environment remain the council’s top priorities. Since 2010, there have been deep and sustained cuts to the council’s funding from central government. Austerity isn’t over, but the council has worked hard to manage the money it has. This year’s proposed budget for 2020-21 includes the first package of investment since 2009, featuring extra funding for:
- Building new council homes – investing £60m to help deliver Islington’s target of 550 new council homes by 2022.
- Preventing homelessness – an extra £280,000 on work to stop vulnerable households becoming homeless because of complex issues like mental or physical health problems.
- Rogue landlords – an extra £700,000 to extend the licensing of private landlords to cover 70% of the borough’s privately rented properties, subject to central government approval. We are on the side of private renters and hope this will help an estimated 3,000 people currently living in sub-standard conditions.
- Tackling violence against women and girls – an extra £600,000 on measures to tackle violence against women and girls (VAWG), including increasing awareness of the issue and the services available and targeted support to break the cycle of violence and enable survivors and their children to recover. More than 4,000 domestic violence incidents were reported to police in Islington in 2018-19, and four in every five children’s social care cases involve domestic violence and abuse.
- Creating a rapid-response anti-social behaviour (ASB) team – spending £239,000 on extra officers will allow additional resources to be focused on hotspot areas, improving both the “triage” process and response times to complaints made by phone and online, seven days a week during times of peak demand.
- Skills and getting into work – an extra £250,000 to create a new team of community-based outreach workers to provide vocational and employability support to vulnerable young adults, to develop their skills and get them into work.
- More than doubling the number of schools benefitting from our pioneering School Streets scheme – which restricts traffic outside schools at pick-up and drop-off time, reducing pollution and increasing safety for everyone in the locality. We will more than double the number of School Streets from the current 13 to 30.
- Protecting frontline environmental services, including street cleaning, parks maintenance and weekly recycling and rubbish collections. We will carry on increasing the proportion of electric and hybrid vehicles in our fleet.
- Continuing to lobby central Government for more urgent climate action, encouraging residents and businesses to play their part, and carry on implementing changes wherever we can to achieve our ambition of a net zero carbon borough by 2030.
In addition to the above and despite having to make savings of almost £250 million since 2010, all libraries, children’s centres and youth hubs are also protected, as are free school meals for all nursery and primary school pupils, which can save families around £400 a year.
Islington Council’s Executive Member for Finance, Performance and Community Safety, Cllr Andy Hull, said:
“We’re determined to build a fairer Islington, giving everyone the best possible chance in life and supporting our most vulnerable residents. Our budget proposals for next year prioritise the biggest issues facing Islington – homes, safety, jobs and the environment.
“We want to invest in building the new council homes Islington needs so badly, give more support to stop people becoming homeless, and provide better protection for private renters, who far too often live with disrepair, damp, overcrowding or gas safety issues.
“We’re investing in more targeted support to tackle violence against women and girls – domestic violence is the most common reason for local people contacting our children’s social care team, and almost all of the most troubled young people being supported by our Youth Offending Service have experienced domestic violence or abuse as children. By investing in prevention and early intervention, we can transform thousands of our residents’ lives for the better.
“Despite having to make savings of almost £250m over the last 10 years because of continuing Government cuts to local councils, we’re determined to do everything we can to make Islington a fairer place.”
The budget proposals will go to the council’s Executive on Thursday, 16 January, before being debated by full council on Thursday, 27 February, when the council’s budget for 2020/21 will be set.
The budget proposals can be read in full here.