Westminster City Council’s Cabinet has agreed the authority’s proposed budget and Council Tax for 2016/17 at its meeting on 22 February 2016.
Westminster needs to find over £100m in savings over the next 3 years, on top of £90m delivered over the past 3 years. Continuing reductions in government funding, changes in national legislation and increasing demands on services have led to on-going pressures on the council’s finances. Most of these savings have been achieved through extensive efficiency programmes, continuously examining every way of reducing costs and, when appropriate, increasing income.
Westminster’s Council Tax is the lowest in the country and has been the same for 9 years. If it had been raised each year just to keep in line with inflation, the average band D resident would now be paying £90 more. Therefore, a modest increase has been agreed by Cabinet for 2016/17 of just £15.07 extra a year for a Band D resident, equivalent to 29p per week. This will be subject to final approval by Full Council on 2 March 2016.
While Westminster’s Band D will be £392.81 per resident, the council will be spending over £760 per resident on Adults and Children’s Services alone - almost twice as much as Westminster receives from the whole of the Council Tax.
Despite the financial challenges, the Cabinet outlined how the budget for 2016/17 also sets out how £815m will be spent on council services in the next financial year to deliver the vision of a City for All.
Cllr Tim Mitchell, Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate Services, said: "We’re always focused on offering our residents value for money. We have deliberately kept Council Tax low for 9 years. We chose to do this because we wanted to help the economy and local residents during difficult times as the country has been tackling the deficit.
"As we now see a stronger economy, like many other councils, we feel the time is right to look at a very modest increase in Council Tax, which is already the lowest around. We feel this is right to make sure we can ensure the city’s continued success and offer the right support for the most vulnerable."
The Cabinet has approved the budget and Council Tax report at its meeting on 22 February 2016. The budget and Council Tax levels for 2016/17 will be set at Full Council on 2 March 2016. Read the full report
Westminster’s Council Tax for 2015/16 is currently the lowest in the country, based on Band D comparisons.
The proposed increase for the Westminster element of Council Tax will be made up of 1.99%, plus 2% for social care. This is subject to approval by Full Council.
The Council Tax Freeze grant that has been awarded by the Government since 2011 has been scrapped. In its place councils can now levy a new charge for social care, of up to 2% on Council Tax, with any money raised this way to be spent locally.
We await announcements by all other local authorities before we can compare our 2016/17 Council Tax to those of others in the country. However for 2015/16, we set the lowest national Council Tax, the next lowest being 2.2% above Westminster’s. Our 2015/16 Council Tax is significantly lower than both the average London and National Council Tax levels of £1,298 and £1,484 respectively. Even after Cabinet’s decision, Westminster’s Council Tax is expected to remain the lowest in the country.