Housebuilding plans in Islington budget – with council tax set to rise

Cllrs Kaya Comer-Schwartz outside Islington town hall. Picture: Polly Hancock

Cllrs Kaya Comer-Schwartz outside Islington town hall. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Building homes and easing pressure on the hardest-up households are at the centre of Islington Council’s proposed budget for 2022-23. 

Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, leader of the council, has announced 228 homes will be started in the borough by the end of this year among a series of goals that are also set around becoming net zero on carbon emissions by 2030. 

But amid limited government funding and Covid-19 pressure, the council is needing to save £6.7million – which will see council tax rise by 2.99 per cent for the year*. For a band D property, this represents around £0.73 per week for full council tax payers.

Cllr Comer-Schwartz said: “We are in a borough that is really facing a cost of living crisis and that is particularly felt this time of year. There is also the additional stress of the pandemic, inflation, and rising energy costs. We have done our best to reflect this in the budget.”

This is the motive behind the authority putting an extra £676,000 into a scheme which will reduce council tax for around 19,000 on low income – an increase on the year before.

The childcare bursary scheme will quadruple to £160,000 to allow 300 more parents to go back into work.

There are currently 15 "active" construction sites across the borough while a council house building programme will continue. 

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On the green side, the council says it is looking to plant more trees, install more solar panels and replace its fuel-powered cars with electric options.

Consultations will be held to make school streets and low traffic neighbourhoods permanent.

There are plans for safeguarding women and keeping young people active. 

Cllr Comer-Schwartz added: “We are safeguarding services residents really appreciate, like our universal free school meals for primary schools.” 

On the issue of balancing the books, Cllr Satnam Gill, finance executive, said: “We are pretty positive that all our savings are positive. They are mostly efficiencies.”

He added: “Even though central government funding has dismally failed to keep pace with the costs we face from increased demand for our services, we’re determined to make Islington a more equal place for all – and will do everything we can to protect the most vulnerable in our society.”

The budget is set to be debated next week ahead of a full council meeting in March where, if approved, it will be actioned from April. 

*Islington Council could increase the tax by 1.99 per cent. The extra 1 per cent is set to be added as part of the adult social care precept - which is outside of their control.