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Council tax set to rise by nearly 3% in Havering

Havering Council could cut 400 positions to try and save millions of pounds 

Havering Council’s cabinet has backed plans to increase council tax by 2.99 per cent. 

The cabinet met last night to discuss budget proposals for the upcoming financial year. It will recommend they are approved at a full council meeting on Wednesday, 2 March.

The budget will aim to make savings of £11.5 million after there was a sharp rise in demand for social services during the Covid pandemic. However, even if it is successful there will still be a gap of £7.9 million for the following year. 

Documents show 400 jobs at the local council will be cut, saving an estimated £14 million over the next two years. Members of staff will be offered voluntary redundancy but some may be forced to leave. 

A council spokesperson stressed that some of the positions are already vacant and it will also stop relying on more expensive agency staff. 

Adult social care services will look to save a further £3 million in the next year by implementing a new “three conversation model”. The council will ask residents if they can look after themselves or if a family member can care for them before stepping in. 

Chief Operating Officer, Jane West, said the adult social care team will still monitor cases and work with families to ensure everyone is looked after properly. 

The council’s strategic reserves will drop from around £11 million to roughly £8 million in the next year but the council expects to be able to start rebuilding them in the following year. 

TaxPayers’ Alliance has opposed the rise in council tax, arguing people are paying more money for worse services. 

Spokesperson Harry Fone said there are 16 senior members of staff at Havering Council who are earning more than £100,000, up from 14 the previous year. 

“You’ve got a chief executive who in 2020/21 had take-home pay of £212,000,” said Harry. “That’s more than the Prime Minister and when you’re at that sort of money I would expect them to be able to make savings. 

“Taxpayers are paying more but the people we’ve spoken to are saying they’re not getting the frontline services they’re after. I’m not saying it’s easy for councils but they’ve got to remember we are in a cost of living crisis, many households are struggling to make ends meet. 

“Every penny, every pound they can save matters. If we could make it a 2.5 per cent rise instead of three per cent that would be a big step forward.”

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