Monday, 4 March 2013

Camden invests in tech, greenworks and construction to boost economy

Camden's 2013 Budget invests in tech, greenworks and construction to boost our local economy.

The continuation of the government cuts initiated in 2010 has meant that 2012/13 has inevitably been a challenging year both for the Council and residents, as efficiencies have been required at exactly the time when the need for essential public services has never been greater. 

As with other councils serving the most deprived areas in the country, Camden has taken the brunt of the cuts compared to more affluent areas.

We've developed a plan for these unprecedented cuts by setting a 3 year Budget to control Town Hall costs.  

This has enabled us to develop an alternative approach to support local jobs and growth in Camden, including:

  • full time nursery provision for three and four year olds at Camden nurseries to support working families back into work
  • 240 Camden Apprenticeships for 16-24 year olds
  • innovative Funding Circle peer-to-peer loan scheme for established businesses unable to access funds for growth from banks
  • free public wifi to cover most of the borough
  • funding to teach Computer Science and programming so local people can access tech jobs
  • permanent fee waiver for all community festivals up to 10,000 people
  • contract with the Post Office to provide council cashier services through local post offices branches, with plans for libraries to serve as 'contact points'
  • insulation measures for the oldest and worst properties in the private rented sector
  • extra funding to prevent homelessness as a result of the Welfare Reform Act
Through the Community Investment Programme Camden has also rebuilt its capital investment following severe government cuts, by the targeted sale and regeneration of public assets and reinvestment into local schools and council homes.  The Chester Balmore estate regeneration in Highgate will be completed following £11 million of investment, delivering the largest Passivhaus development in the UK.

This is just the start.  1100 new council homes will be built locally over the next 5 years:  the first time Camden Council has been able to build new council homes for rent for nearly 20 years. These new homes will be offered to those on the council house waiting list – bringing affordable rented homes to one of the most expensive central London boroughs.  Around 1,650 homes have been refurbished in the last year – with a further £178m to be invested in over 13,000 homes in the period up to 2016/17 through direct investment and public borrowing.

All 57 primary and secondary schools will get repairs and energy efficiency works, making good much of the government cuts to capital works to schools in 2010.

£2 million will be allocated to improve the public realm in and around Tottenham Court Road, levering in extra private sector investment around Crossrail.

Camden’s self-financed Community Investment Programme represents an additional investment of over 6% (£330m) to the entire (£5.5bn) national capital infrastructure investment total announced by the Chancellor in the Autumn statement and will bring an estimated £1bn of public and private funds into the local economy.

Our investment in school repairs of £117m represents an extra 12% on top of the national fund for free schools (£980m).   

Through a new local growth-focused procurement regime we will promote employment opportunities for local residents and use local suppliers either as prime contractor or as part of the main contract supply chain.

Camden’s 2013 Budget proposes to freeze the level of Council Tax for a further two years, providing some help and fairness for all taxpayers at a time of continuing economic uncertainty. Owners of long term empty homes in Camden will be charged 150% Council Tax and tax perks removed for second homes: together this will impact one in sixteen properties in the borough.

Senior management costs have been reduced by 20%, we are implementing the London Living Wage for private contracts and the highest to lowest pay ratio in the council is 10:1, well below the public sector average of 15:1 (or the FTSE 100 average of 262:1).       

We’ve set out these measures in our Budget because we believe that it is necessary to support growth through active policies in the economy and to ensure that local people aren’t left behind in this continuing climate austerity.

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