Hackney Council Tax could increase by 2 per cent
Hackney Council is considering increasing Council Tax for the first time in over a decade, to help cover the rising costs of supporting the borough’s older and disabled residents.
The two per cent increase would see the Council’s Band D charge rise by less than £20 a year, but would raise around £1.3m, which would help to fund services like home care, meals on wheels, day centres, the Freedom Pass and helping residents to live independent lives for longer.
Despite cuts to policing in the capital, the Mayor of London appears to be pressing ahead with his reduction of about £19 to the Greater London Authority precept that also is part of residents’ council tax bills. This means that the total charge of most bills in Hackney should rise by less than £1 a year.”
The proposal follows notification from Government that Hackney will lose a further £38m in Government funding over the next four years. Taken together with cost pressures in adult social care and other key front line services, Hackney will need to make further savings totalling £58m by 2020. Hackney will have lost £138m funding (50 per cent) from central Government since 2010.
The Chancellor announced in November that councils would be able to increase Council Tax by an additional two per cent to generate funding towards their adult social care budget without triggering a referendum. Although optional, the central Government grant towards local services assumes councils will apply this increase.
We froze Council Tax for 10 years because we recognise the pressure residents are under as the cost of living rises. By freezing Council Tax for so long, a Band D council taxpayer has saved more than £1,400 over the last decade, but we’ve reached the point where we can’t continue to do this.
Throughout this time we have absorbed the costs of increasing service demand, inflation, and managing central Government grant cuts totalling £100m so far, but it’s simply not mathematically possible to go on forever making up the shortfall through efficiency measures alone.
Protecting and supporting older and disabled people is one of the most important things councils do and is our largest area of expenditure. However, rather than the Government fully covering the rising costs, their grant funding for councils is based on the assumption that Council Tax will increase to help cover the shortfall.
The proposal will be debated at Full Council on 2 March.