Council tax is set to rise by just 4p a day in Westminster for Band D residents as the council faces unprecedented pressures on its funding.
The city council has seen its funding fall by around 50 per cent in last decade. In addition with the Government’s draft funding formula set to reduce the council’s funding even further from 2020 onwards, it is prudent to raise council tax by inflation of 2.1 per cent to protect services.
Westminster City Council Leader Nickie Aiken said:
“Westminster City Council is a low tax authority. We’ve maintained a reputation for excellence in services at the lowest Band D council tax in the country. We again look to protect our residents from excessive rises in taxation. But we do have to recognise the financial reality that we face.
“So this year, we have increased our council tax by 2.1 per cent - which equates to an additional 4p per day for a Band D taxpayer and tracks inflation.
“We’re keeping council tax low in Westminster, but calling on Government to give us more flexibility on how we manage our finances so that we can continue to protect those on low incomes from additional excessive financial burdens.”
The council has examined every area of operation to identify opportunities to reduce costs and generate additional income, without cutting essential services.
The Westminster council tax increase is made up of two parts – the 2.1 per cent increase in council tax, and a 2 per cent increase in adult social care precept – the sum of money set aside for looking after the elderly and those with special needs.
The combined increase will mean the local element for the Band D properties in Westminster for 2019/20 will be £433.34 – equivalent to a 4p a day increase on last year. In addition, the Mayor of London has increased its element of the council tax bill for London boroughs by 9 per cent – an extra £26.28 a year in cash terms for an average Band D council tax payer. This is something Westminster City Council has no control over.
However, the Budget which members will be asked to approve at Full Council on 6 March 2019 shows the authority remains on track to deliver on all its City for All pledges.
The council’s ground-breaking community contribution scheme to date has raised an extra £600,000 thanks to the generosity of Westminster residents living in the highest council tax band properties. This highlights the willingness these residents to contribute more. However, due to government rules on how council tax increases can be made, the council doesn’t have the ability to raise charges in just the highest band in order to protect those on low incomes. The council is lobbying Government to allow this flexibility.
The proposed council tax and Budget for 2019/20 will go before Westminster City Council’s cabinet on 25 February 2019 and will be voted on by the full council on 6 March 2019.