Tower Hamlets suffers worst cuts in the country

Photo: Katie Gibbons

Despite being one of the country’s most disadvantaged boroughs central funding to Tower Hamlets will be cut by the maximum of 8.9 percent, with the national average being just 4.4 percent.A council spokesman said: “We’re currently looking across the organisation to identify savings, but plans cannot be finalised until we’ve been able to digest the details of the Government’s delayed grant settlement, which came out this week.

“We are committed to preserving front-line services to protect the borough’s most vulnerable residents and expect to be able to make further announcements in the New Year.”

Last week Mayor Lutfur Rahman voted  to support anti-cuts campaigns in the borough in a public condemnation of the coalition government’s proposed cuts calling them: “ideologically motivated”.  The council is nevertheless expected to reduce its budget by £75 million over the next four years and cut £20 million within the next year.

Many are concerned that the cuts will deeply affect the most vulnerable people in the borough, who rely heavily on services funded by specific area based grants that are set to be reduced or cut.

In a move to reduce its budget the council will cut over 500 jobs within the next year. It has also been announced that ninety-nine Tower Hamlets NHS jobs will be axed within the next month.

Mr Rahman reduced his own salary by £10,000 at the beginning of October.

Tower Hamlets families will also be seriously affected by the abolition of the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA). 67 percent of 16-18 year olds in education in the borough currently receive the £10-30 weekly EMA grant that the government will scrap next September as part of the larger cuts in education.

Richard McEwan, lecturer and joint secretary of Poplar UCU, said: “Axing the EMA will mean students are £3,320 down over two years. It’s money for books and materials and it’s important if you’re a teenager with no job. It’s not like they can fund their studies in other ways.”

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