Last night, Labour’s budget for 2009/10 was agreed by the Council. For the fourth year in the row, the Labour administration on Hackney Council was able to freeze council tax. Four years of council tax freezes means that on average local residents will have saved £256. Council tax in Hackney is now lower than the London average. The Budget set out how we are planning to invest in a number of key services. Many other councils have been cutting frontline services, but in Hackney through our better use of resources, we are in a position to:
- Invest £0.5m in keeping Hackney clean – increasing street sweeping, graffiti and fly-poster removal, and weekend litter picking
- Invest £0.576m in recycling – particularly expanding it on estates
- Increase schools spending by 3.9% per pupil
- Expand the Youth Service
- Open one new library (Dalston) with 20,000 new books and refurbish and extend another (Clapton)
- Provide free swimming for all under 18s and over 60s at local pools
- Re-open the Stoke Newington Assembly Halls and offices
- Recruit more environmental health officers – particularly specialising in noise pollution and food standards
- Invest in local cycling scheme
- Launch a Climate Change Strategy for the Borough
- Allocate over a £1m more to adult social services.
The annual survey of resident satisfaction with council services also showed that there has been a 12% increase in the last year – and is now at 72%.
And today – the Audit Commission announced that Hackney has achieved a 3* (out of a possible 4) rating for a second year in a row. Several priority areas for the council were singled out for praise – community safety, children and young people and adult social care.
The assessment reads:
What progress has the authority made in the last year?
Hackney Council is improving strongly. Hackney is delivering significant improvement in priority areas such as community safety, children and young people and adult social care. The pace of improvement is higher than the national average with three quarters of performance indicators improving in 2007/08. Overall resident satisfaction has improved with 60 percent of residents feeling their views are taken into account. This is supported by the Service First programme. Challenges remain in the planning service and tackling childhood obesity The Council works well with partners to deliver wider community outcomes such as health inequalities, addressing worklessness and tackling crime. Infant mortality and teenage pregnancy rates have decreased. Apprenticeships are used to deliver more local job opportunities. Crime overall has decreased. The Council provides improved value for money and financial standing is good. Leadership, planning and prioritisation are strong. Consultation is used well to shape services to meet the needs of diverse communities. The Council continues to improve performance management and is making good use of joint appointments to increase capacity. The Council is well placed to sustain and deliver future improvements."