After two years of freezing council tax, Kingston Council is set to peg a rise in council tax bills to less than two per cent. This rise is below the cost of living.
Despite a third consecutive year of cuts to the government funding for Kingston, the Liberal Democrat councillors have vowed to continue to deliver services that matter most to people.
Cuts in government funding
In the three years to 2013/14, government funding for Kingston will have been reduced by more than one quarter (£18.1million)
The effect of government cut backs and inflation would have resulted in a £9.28 per week increase in council tax for Band D properties if the Council had passed these on to taxpayers. Instead, the Council Tax bill for Band D properties will rise by just 52p a week, and this will be the first increase since April 2010.
This has been achieved by making savings of some £10.4m and receiving some specific grant support.
Councillor Rolson Davies, Lead Member for Finance and Resources said:
“Residents in Band D could have seen their council tax rise £170 due to inflation and a further £312 due to the current government’s austerity measures (a potential £482 increase in total). But due to our efforts made through tight financial management we have kept the impact on Kingston residents to £27 (Band D properties)."
Protecting the vulnerable
Kingston Council is also protecting against most of the impact of the government’s abolition of Council Tax Benefit on low-income households, who would have potentially seen a sharp increase in what they pay.
Three other London Boroughs have chosen not to do so, and instead to pass on the full impact of these changes to the poorest households, and as a result are facing the prospect of a Judicial Review of their arrangements.
Overall net council spending has been reduced in real terms by £18.1m (12 per cent) in the last three years, thanks to savings and efficiency measures. This is despite more being spent on key services including:
• £2.1m extra for children’s services;
• £4m extra over 3 years to meet the cost of growing numbers of older people and adults with learning disabilities;
• £0.9m extra to tackle homelessness, including increased costs of Private Leased Housing arising from national changes to housing benefit entitlements;
• £1.4m to improve the borough’s roads;
• £0.8m on waste disposal to deal with increased landfill tax.