Councillors asked to agree Council Tax rise to fund vital services
As part of the Council’s annual budget setting process, councillors will be asked to consider proposals to increase Hackney’s Council Tax by 4.99%, to ensure essential services can be delivered in the face of ongoing Central Government cuts.
The increase - which will be voted on at a meeting on 27 February - will add 92p a week to the average Band C Council Tax bill in Hackney, and will raise an extra £3.8m a year to help fund services across the Council. It is expected that, even after this rise, Hackney’s Council Tax will be the ninth lowest in London.
Since 2010, the Government has cut our core budget by £140m. That’s about half, and by 2022 they’ll have cut another £30m. In terms of our overall spending power, we’ve lost £529 per head - the highest loss of any London borough.
While Ministers might like using the soundbite ‘austerity is over’, on the ground, in public services and local government, that is not true. We’ve tried to address this huge challenge by, among other things, reducing management and back office staff, investing in services to reduce costs in the long term, bringing services back in house and renegotiating contracts.
After a decade-long freeze, we also started to increase Council Tax from 2016, and this year bills will increase by 4.99%, which is less than £1 a week for the average Hackney property. But we’ve still got more to do. To put this in context, increasing Council Tax will raise an extra £3.8m - just 13% of the savings we need to make.
Over the next few years, we will have some difficult decisions to make, but our priority will always be to protect frontline services and make sure we can look after our most vulnerable residents. Despite the challenges, the draft budget I will be taking to Council later this month is ambitious and sees us invest in our borough to make sure it remains a place for everyone.