Charges for nutritious, hot meals for young and old are to be reduced or frozen despite heavy budget cuts handed down to the council by the government.
Councillors are set to reduce the cost of meals on wheels by a third to help elderly stay healthy by enjoying good quality food. This will be done at the same time as bringing down council tax.
The cost of school meals will be frozen. Primary school pupils that don’t qualify for free meals will continue to pay £1.80, whilst secondary school pupils will still pay £1.90.
The price reduction to these cost-of-living essentials have been proposed after the new administration found significant savings to pay for them and other priorities having initiated two rounds of cost-cutting in the last eight months. This has involved: cutting the number of senior managers; cutting the costs of office space; cancelling council PR spend and negotiating more effectively with suppliers and property developers. The administration is also about to begin zero-based budget service reviews to remodel a variety of council services.
The government’s austerity budgets has seen local government take the brunt of public sector cuts with this year’s cut in government grants resulting in an estimated reduction for Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s spending power of more than 10%.
Councillor Stephen Cowan, Leader, the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham said: “We are reviewing where every penny of tax payers’ money is spent and stripping out waste. That is the only reason that we have been able to slash meals on wheels charges by 33% and deliver better value for families on school meals and many other essential cost-of-living costs”.
A final decision on the council’s budget for 2015/16, including council tax rates, will be made at the annual budget meeting on 25 February. Before that, detailed proposals will be discussed in public at a series of policy and accountability meetings throughout January.