Budget 2023-24: Here for you when it matters most

Islington Council to create £1 million Hardship Fund in cost of living budget that ‘prioritises frontline services’

Islington Council has announced a £1million Hardship Fund as part of its budget proposals for the next financial year, boosting its substantial existing safety net that shields the borough’s most vulnerable households from the worst effects of the cost of living crisis.

The fund will provide financial support to those with a household income that only just lifts them out of most benefit entitlement and other financial support, but very soon simply won’t be enough to make ends meet as rents in the social and private sector rise, alongside costs of other essentials including food and energy. 

More details of the one-off Hardship Fund will be shared in the coming months and, if approved, it will start accepting applications from those in need before the end of March. 

The budget proposals also protect all other financial support that was provided by the council to struggling households this year – including the Resident Support Scheme which remains one of the most wide-ranging and generous in the UK, free meals and activities for eligible children in the school holidays, and our IMAX service that so far this year has put more than £5 million into the pockets of residents who weren't aware of the benefits they were entitled to.

In addition, Islington recently committed to expanding its IMAX team, investing funds received from energy generation at the publicly-owned Edmonton EcoPark. The council will also distribute £4.4million of support to vulnerable households struggling with bills via the Household Support Fund. 

In addition, investment continues in the frontline services residents and businesses rely on, and in the council’s key priorities for a more equal borough. This includes protection of free school meals for every primary school pupil, keeping our libraries and adventure playgrounds open, maintaining regular recycling and rubbish collections and a regular street sweeping programme. Other key highlights include: 

  • Protecting our Council Tax Support Scheme, one of the most supportive in the UK, which cuts 95% of the Council Tax bill for around 18,000 low-income, working-age households; 
  • Building hundreds of new council homes for families in desperate need:  The new-build council housing programme continues, with a further 150 new council homes due to be finished during the 2023/24 financial year. Construction will also start on 37 new council homes in a pioneering net-zero project that contributes to the council’s commitment to build 750 new council homes by 2027, and help towards its net-zero carbon commitments at a time when low-energy homes are needed more than ever. Work will also start on building up to 100 genuinely affordable new homes, a brand-new leisure centre and a new GP surgery on the Finsbury Leisure Centre site; 
  • Investing £1 million into a new damp and mould action team to tackle unacceptable conditions in a small proportion of our council housing. The money will fund specialist surveyors and more ventilation and insulation for homes suffering from mould. A dedicated reporting line will also be set up. We are also continuing to roll out fire safety works and retrofitting homes on our estates with energy-saving improvements that will reduce residents’ bills, improve their quality of life and help towards creating a net-zero borough by the end of the decade. 
  • Continuing to roll-out more School Streets and Liveable Neighbourhoods schemes as part of its Vision 2030 Strategy to become a net-zero carbon borough by the end of the decade. This will make the roads safer, reduce air pollution and make it easier to walk, cycle, scoot, and use buggies and wheelchairs as environmentally friendly alternatives to driving. 
  • Protecting a £500,000 extra investment, first introduced in 2019, to tackle serious youth violence and ensure Islington’s young people have the best start in life. A new provider will deliver detached youth work across the borough, and the new youth centre on the Andover estate will develop its programme further.  
  • Continuing our £5.1 million, four-year investment programme to upgrade and expand the borough’s CCTV network, installing high-definition cameras. We are also working to expand the Safe Havens network towards a target of 300 venues by April 2023. 
  • Continuing to support thousands of residents back into work by protecting investment in our iWork service and local economies team, who also provide hands-on support for local businesses. This includes around £400,000 in grants next year to help with energy efficiency measures. We will also continue to invest in our affordable workspace programme, which already offers 25,000 square feet of space with another 200,000 square feet in the pipeline. 
  • Improving customer services for residents with quicker, easier access to council support. We will recruit and train nine more full-time staff to the Contact Islington call centre, reducing call waiting times and abandoned calls.

Islington will do all this despite unprecedented cost pressures, inflation levels not seen for a generation, and a further real-terms funding cut from central Government in 2023/24 that requires Islington to find £12.4 million in savings.  

The council has been forced to make savings of almost £300 million due to central Government’s underfunding since 2010 and has not received enough help to mitigate the effects of an 11% inflationary rise in the cost of goods and services this year alone. 

To continue providing key local services and supporting local people, council tax is proposed to increase by 4.99%, including a 2% increase to help towards meeting the increasing costs of adult social care. 

Cllr Diarmaid Ward, the council’s Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Finance and Performance, said: “The cost of living crisis is hitting Islington hard, so we’re creating a £1 million Hardship Fund to help support people as we strive to make our borough a more equal place. 

“This is a really difficult time for local people and for the local services they rely on, because of spiralling inflation and incredible pressure on household budgets that were already stretched, and the effects of years of Government underfunding for services. 

“We’re totally committed to helping people through this however we can, but it’s important to be frank about the financial realities. Central Government has yet again passed the buck back to local authorities – all its calculations assume that councils will raise Council Tax by the maximum amount. 

“We’ve been forced to adopt the increase to avoid having to make even deeper cuts to local services, and we’re proposing to ringfence £1 million to support the working families who are teetering on the brink. I’m talking about those who are doing their best, with a household income that only just lifts them out of most benefit entitlement and other financial support, but very soon simply won’t be enough to make ends meet. We will not stand by and allow this crisis to squeeze even more people into homelessness. 

“In the face of incredible financial pressure, we’re doing everything in our power to make Islington a more equal place, and to prioritise frontline services that people rely on.” 

The budget proposals will go to the council’s Executive on Thursday, 12 January, before being debated by full council on Thursday, 2 March, when the council’s budget for 2023/24 will be set. 

Read the budget proposals in full here.



Notes to editor 


  • The cost of the one-off Hardship Fund is equivalent to £17 for a Band D property. 

Contact information

If you are a member of the public with a general question about the council please view the contact information on our website or call 020 7527 2000.