High inflation and the government’s approach to local government funding are behind the rise in council tax announced by Richmond Council.
Inflation is running at over 10% and this is affecting council budgets as the costs to deliver vital services increase. The government has made it clear that it expects councils to raise council tax to cope with inflation and the increasing demand for social care. The government’s own ‘spending power’ calculations for councils assume a 2.99% increase in core council tax and a 2% adult social care precept on top, in line with Richmond’s increase.
Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of the Council, said:
‘The Conservative party have demonstrated that they just can’t be trusted with the country’s finances. Our economy has been hit by Brexit, the pandemic and the war in Ukraine – and Liz Truss’ disastrous premiership made an already difficult position much worse. They have had to increase taxes and are now pushing an additional burden onto local residents. We can’t avoid an increase in council tax and even so will be making use of reserves to balance the budget.’
The Liberal Democrat administration has pledged not to cut services and to make sure that the most vulnerable and the worst off are supported.
The council announced earlier in the year an emergency £3m cost of living support fund to help local households, businesses and charities deal with the crisis. Hardship funding will ensure that free school meals during school holidays, grants for those in desperate need and increased fuel grants can all continue.
In a move that will help thousands of low-income households, the budget proposals also include taking a further £100 off the bills of those who receive support with their council tax.
The Lib Dems have also set aside funding to help those affected by the London Mayor’s ULEZ rollout with alternative travel options.
Cllr Robin Brown, Richmond Council Lead Member for Finance, said:
‘We are doing everything we can to minimise council costs and had to put in place overnight a £5m efficiency plan to help close a £16m budget gap. We’ve run the council’s finances prudently over the past four years, in the face of persistent Tory calls to ‘freeze council tax’ which as we know would only lead to cuts in services and an unsustainable position. Unlike the previous Tory administration we have tackled the huge special needs funding black hole and controlled borrowing. We know that Richmond residents wouldn’t thank us for cutting services and they want us to support those with the greatest needs.‘
The budget was agreed at Richmond’s Council meeting will on Tuesday 7 March.
Cllr Brown added:
'This Liberal Democrat administration has also made it clear that it is determined to deliver on the manifesto commitments it made at the time of the 2022 elections. We will continue to focus on reducing crime, delivering more affordable housing, pushing forward our climate emergency strategy, helping local businesses and high streets and supporting our children and young people.’
The plans for the coming year include:
Residents who need help with Council Tax payments may be entitled to support. Find out more via the Council’s Cost of Living Hub, or by calling 020 8891 1411.