In the first full council meeting with Westminster’s newly-formed leadership team, the council has approved the new budget and confirmed the upcoming City for All priorities for the year ahead.
The budget ratifies the council’s ongoing commitments to provide more housing, reducing the city’s impact on climate change, and ensuring value for money for residents.
The council is already expected to exceed its target of building 1,850 new affordable homes by 2023, but the new budget confirms the authority’s ongoing commitment to create more homes for hard working families in the city over the next decade.
To support Westminster’s ambitious target of being carbon-neutral by 2040 and to reduce the city’s impact on climate change, an initial £5m has also been set aside for key environmental projects.
Proposals were also confirmed to raise council tax by 1.43 per cent (just an extra £6.20 per year for a band D council payer) and the adult social care precept by 2 per cent. With these changes, Westminster still continues to offer among the lowest band D council tax in the country.
Cllr Rachael Robathan, Leader of the Council, said:
“Building more homes and confronting climate change are some of the big challenges of our time and our budget and new City for All programme reflects this.
“In Westminster we have a track record of providing high quality services while offering value for money for our residents. This will continue as we strive to be greener and cleaner, offer support for our vibrant communities and become a technological Smart City.
“However, we’re also urging the Treasury to work with councils to review the way we fund local government and give local authorities like ours extra powers to raise money locally so that we can continue provide local services to the standards our residents deserve. We’re not asking for more money from the government, just for more freedom to control our own resources.”
Excellent management of the Council’s budget has also allowed Westminster to continue to provide a supportive discretionary Council Tax Support Scheme (CTS) for our residents. The scheme, once again approved by the Council for 2020/21, provides financial support with council tax for low-income residents at a level mirroring the previous national Council Tax Benefit scheme, whereas the majority of other councils have sought to reduce the level of support for their residents.
Cllr Melvyn Caplan, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, Property and Regeneration, said:
“We’re proud that we are able to provide our Council Tax Support Scheme for residents at a level that not many other local authorities are likely to match. This is because of our relentless focus on providing value for money services and looking after the money that is entrusted to us to run the Council on behalf of our residents and businesses.”
Notes to Editors
· To see the full details of the Council’s budget, visit www.westminster.gov.uk
· The Council Tax Support scheme (CTS) (also called the Council Tax Reduction scheme) replaced the national Council Tax Benefit (CTB) scheme in April 2013. The CTS scheme is split into two parts:-
1. A prescribed part for pensioners, which means that local authorities cannot amend the level of CTS for pensioners. The prescribed scheme effectively seeks to mirror the provisions of the previous national CTB scheme.
2. A discretionary part for working age claimants. This part allows a local authority to produce its own scheme. The majority of local authorities have reduced the level of benefit granted under their working age schemes while the City Council has sought to try to mirror the previous CTB scheme (and Prescribed Regs) in order not to reduce the level of financial assistance to help with Council Tax for our claimants.