Hackney mayor slams budget for lack of council funding and says it ‘does little’ for 13,000 on housing list
PUBLISHED: 17:19 22 November 2017 | UPDATED: 17:32 22 November 2017
Mayor Phil Glanville has slammed the budget for doing next to nothing to help cash-strapped councils like Hackney.
He said Philip Hammond’s failure to give a single penny to town halls towards huge safety costs in the wake of Grenfell was “extremely disappointing” and said the focus on home ownership would do little for the 13,000 people on Hackney’s waiting list.
The other major let down was the chancellor’s failure to reverse crippling police funding cuts. As revealed in the Gazette, Hackney this month launched its Foot the Bill campaign, calling on ministers to fund the Met properly and allow the long arm of the law to do its job properly – but it fell on deaf ears.
Mr Glanville said: “Since 2010, Hackney has had to find £152million to balance its budget due to cuts to the grants we receive from central government and rising costs.
“More cuts in future years mean that from 2010/11 to 2020/21, the government’s annual grant to Hackney will have fallen by 45 per cent.
“Rhetoric of ‘increasing efficiency’ and ‘doing more with less’ as a panacea to ongoing funding cuts is increasingly being exposed as empty. The growing impact its cuts are having across a range of vital frontline services on which millions of people across the country rely are being felt more and more each day.
“This budget wasn’t just about asking the government for more money. It was as much about it giving us the freedoms we need to properly address the housing crisis; committing to transport projects to support important growth in homes and jobs; listening to widespread concerns over the ill thought-out elements of universal credit; and supporting the many hundreds of Hackney businesses which are having to manage huge increases in business rates.”
Hackney had called on the chancellor to halt the planned 3.9pc inflationary business rates hike, which he did. But the mayor said he was disappointing he didn’t cough up more for the discretionary relief fund which was dished out earlier this year following the huge hike in rates.
The mayor also touched on Crossrail 2. He said: “The lack of commitment to Crossrail 2 is frustrating. This much-need project, both in terms of the core route through Dalston and the proposed eastern phase through Hackney Central and on to Essex, is essential to alleviate congestion and unlock the huge potential in housing and jobs growth across east London and the south east.”
On housing issues in Hackney, he added: “This was a budget that again focused on propping up a failing housing market, with a focus on home ownership that does little for the 13,000 families waiting for a council home in Hackney or the 120,000 children who will be spending Christmas in temporary accommodation across the country.
“When there’s a shortage of housing, it’s common sense to get everyone building more. We will urgently continue discussions with ministers about how Hackney could benefit from an increase in its housing borrowing cap to build more homes, but without measures to get all councils building, today’s announcement does not go far enough and it must lead to real freedoms not continuing attempts to control and dictate from Whitehall.”