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Labour council pledges council tax freeze

PUBLISHED: 12:24 11 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:45 07 September 2010

LABOUR is pledging to freeze council tax and plough an extra £7.8million into frontline services – by making more than £7million efficiency savings over the next year. But council leader Claire Kober promises that the savings will not mean

Rhiannon Evans

LABOUR is pledging to freeze council tax and plough an extra £7.8million into frontline services - by making more than £7million efficiency savings over the next year.

But council leader Claire Kober promises that the savings will not mean compromising services or any redundancies.

"We have frozen council tax but we will maintain services with a view to improving them in line with resident expectations," she explained - as she spoke about the party's proposed 2010-11 budget.

"We have made £7million of savings - primarily in back office efficiencies - and we have moved them to invest in frontline services."

The savings would be made by cutting agency staff, making working practices more efficient, reducing fuel bills by 40 per cent and also slicing insurance premiums, she explained.

The "caring budget" - as Cllr Kober and finance boss Cllr Bob Harris describe it - includes capital projects such as £500,000 to refurbish Muswell Hill library and improving leisure facilities and footpaths.

Much of the extra £7million ploughed into frontline services will go towards improving children's services and caring for vulnerable adults, said Cllr Harris.

"As a caring council, we want to give priority to children in care and vulnerable adults," he said. There is large investment in recycling and all sorts of housing measures and there will be proposals to move forward with a Credit Union to help people have easy access to loans and be able to save."

A total of £1.4million will be spent on a future jobs fund to create 200 jobs and £700,000 will help reduce the number of families in temporary accommodation.

As the London precept - the charge by the city's mayor for services such as police and transport - is also frozen this year, council taxpayers in Haringey will see their bills stay the same as the previous year if the budget is agreed.

Cllr Kober said: "We have worked really hard to put forward a council tax freeze and I think that's really significant given the current economic climate. We know families across the borough are continuing to struggle and we recognise that this year as well as recognising it last year - when we increased council tax by just 1.95 per cent, below inflation."

Liberal Democrat finance spokesman Cllr Ed Butcher said: "We welcome Labour's backing of our campaign to freeze council tax. It has been a long fought battle that will benefit thousands of local residents in these difficult economic times. However, there is something deeply fishy about these figures, which is perhaps no wonder in an election year.

"Haringey Labour seems in complete denial about wider crisis in public finance. Labour failure to lay the foundations for future savings now is putting front-line services at risk in the future.

"Labour obviously want local residents to vote now, but pay later.

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