A rise in council tax was accompanied by a cut to senior councillors’ pay as Havering passed its budget for 2022/23.

At a meeting on March 2, councillors voted to adopt the Conservative administration’s proposals with an amendment put forward by the North Havering Residents Group (NHRG) to reduce special responsibility allowances by 15 per cent.

Approval of the budget means council tax for a band D property in 2022/23 will be set at £1,971, of which £396 represents the mayor of London’s precept and for which a rebate of £150 will be paid to people living in bands A-D.

The budget also set out around £13million in planned savings for 2022/23, more than half of which will be achieved by cutting 400 staff roles.

Roughly £17m of the borough’s £141m council tax requirement for the year is ring-fenced for adult social care, one of the major budgetary pressures on Havering Council in recent years.

Council leader Cllr Damian White said he had to “re-examine and engineer the council” in order to deliver efficiency savings, while denying cuts would lead to poorer services.

Ray Morgon, leader of the Residents' Group, disputed Cllr White’s efficiency claims and insisted the measures included in the budget were “true cuts”, asking: “Have those 400 staff being doing absolutely nothing these years?”

Three proposals to reduce payments to council cabinet members and committee chairs were put forward, including a late submission from the administration.

This was allowed to be considered even though it was late after a procedural vote, despite the consternation of opposition councillors.

The Tories’ SRA reduction plans – which would have cut spending on allowances to £700,000 – were ultimately not voted on after councillors voted eight-to-six in favour of the NHRG’s amendment, with 35 abstentions.

The measure will see SRA cash reallocated to street cleaning and can be introduced immediately, unlike the other two proposals, which relied on a committee restructure that needed governance committee approval before returning to full council.

“At a time when every single employee of this council will be expected to perform at a higher standard for less pay, now is the time for members of this council who are in receipt of special responsibility allowances to do the same,” said NHRG's Cllr Martin Goode.

The proposed amendment from the Hornchurch and Upminster and Cranham residents’ groups, which sought more specific cuts and a leaner committee system, was narrowly defeated 22-21, with six abstentions.

Councillors voted 28-8, with 13 abstentions, to approve the amended budget.