On 1 March 2021, I spoke in the Council’s annual budget making session welcoming the progressive measures in the budget. I am proud to be a part of a Labour administration which is protecting frontline services and investing in the people of Haringey. My speech is set out below.
Ladies and gentlemen, at the budget meeting last year, we were in the civic centre. At that moment, I never thought that we would be in a situation unable to meet each other face to face. And the worst health crisis in hundred years ravaging communities across Haringey. Many people have lost their loved ones. Many people were hospitalised. Or they are still unwell. And our thoughts and prayers are with all of those families who have suffered and continue to suffer.
If you are from one of the black, Asian or ethnic minority communities, the chances are that your community was particularly hit by the virus. The pandemic has exposed the structural racism in the UK. If you are from my ethnic background, the British Bangladeshi community, you are twice as likely to die from Covid-19 than the white population.
Against this backdrop, tonight’s budget comes at a very difficult and sombre moment. But, I am proud to speak in support of a budget that is progressive and puts the people of Haringey first. This Labour administration is standing with our communities when they need us the most.
Despite over 10 years of austerity and cuts and this government reneging on its promise to reimburse local authorities fully on the cost of the pandemic, I am particularly pleased that we are announcing a raft of measures to help people who may be struggling.
We are investing in the people of Haringey.
From the expansion of Free Schools Meals eligibility to the welfare assistance scheme, to support for our voluntary and community sector, to the introduction of Haringey University Bursary Scheme and the investment in our youth services, this is a budget that we can all be proud of.
I particularly welcome the announcement of capital funding for the creation of the Wood Green Youth Hub, which will be in my ward, Noel Park. It is an exciting development not just for the young people living in Noel Park, but all the surrounding wards. Of course, we have the Bruce Grove Youth Hub in Tottenham and the creation of a new youth hub in a central location in Wood Green will benefit the young people across the borough.
During the consultation on the budget, there was a lot enthusiasm for the Wood Green Youth Hub. Most respondents were keen to ensure that there was adequate funding in youth services. With austerity and cuts, youth services across the country have been decimated. This has led to a rise in crime and anti social behaviour in young people. So, I am very pleased that we are investing in our youth. They are the future of our borough.
Overall, this a budget that continues to deliver on our manifesto pledges and commitments. And I am very pleased to support it. Thank you.