Where would we be without public services? They are something we all use and can easily take for granted.

But across the country, these services are under threat.

Repeated cuts to councils’ budgets from governments since 2010 have left many councils in debt and their services stripped back to a minimum.

This has forced councils to stray outside the core purpose of local government finance to try to balance their books, with disastrous consequences for some of them.

Other councils have had their powers taken away and are being run by government commissioners. It is a sad indictment of public services not being valued and councils having the rug pulled from under their feet.

Camden Council does not exist in a bubble and faces these pressures too. High inflation, increased demand for services and cuts to our core government funding of 48% in real terms since 2010.

However, thanks to consistent careful financial management and the vital role our community partners take on in supporting our residents, we can continue to provide the services you need. Camden is not at risk of going bust.

Ham & High: Cllr Richard Olszewski says that Camden Council will still provide the services residents needCllr Richard Olszewski says that Camden Council will still provide the services residents need (Image: Camden Council)

On Monday, our councillors approved a council tax rise of 4.99% for the coming year. This enables us to balance Camden’s budget and deliver not just key services, but extra welfare support to our communities hit hard by the cost-of-living crisis and funding for our exceptional voluntary and community organisations. We can plan for the years to come and continue to tackle big-picture issues, such as Camden’s drive towards being a net zero borough.

You’ll shortly be getting your council tax notice through your door, which explains in detail where your money is going. This will show the tangible investment in your communities. We’re putting an extra £1.04 million into keeping the streets clean and tidy, a total of £26 million invested in this area, £6.7 million into our parks and £3.4 million into libraries.

But just as crucial is the support we’re giving to services you will only need at certain stages in your life or in a time of crisis. This year we’re putting an extra £20 million in social care, health and children’s learning and a total of £23 million into preventing homelessness and supporting people who are homeless.

Clearly, we need to support our residents who are in the greatest need –  so we are continuing our Council Tax Support scheme. Thanks to this, more than 22,000 Camden residents who can least afford to pay council tax will receive either full or partial reductions - and of those, around 16,000 Camden households in the greatest need will not pay any council tax at all.

We are putting a real focus on ensuring families in need can get by – investing in school breakfast clubs, continuing food vouchers for the school holidays, despite the Government withdrawing funding for them, and supporting our voluntary organisations who deliver support services - all underpinned by a family crisis fund and cost of living crisis fund that can provide emergency payments or assistance.

Public services, volunteer groups and community organisations provide many people with somewhere to turn to when they need help. We champion them, and our responsible management of Camden’s finances means we can continue to protect them.

  • Cllr Richard Olszewski is cabinet member for Finance and Cost of Living at Camden Council.