Council tax set for 3% cut again
Monday November 2, 2009
Council tax bills are set to fall for the fourth year in a row, H&F Council announced this week.
H&F Council said it will cut bills by three per cent for the fourth successive year as part of a pledge to deliver the highest quality services at the lowest possible cost to residents.
While cutting tax the council has also reduced its historic debt by £24 million in three years.
When council tax demands go through letterboxes in March 2010, a typical bill will be £122 cheaper than it was four years ago – if proposals are approved at Budget Council meeting next year. Homes in ‘Band D’ – which is the usual figure used for comparison – will be £105 better off.
By March 2011, a typical H&F resident is expected to be nearly £600 better off if tax bills across the capital continue to rise at the same rate as they have done for the past three years.
The three per cent cut in H&F’s share of council tax bills – which excludes the GLA precept – could be the largest in the country for the fourth year running. For the last three years Hammersmith & Fulham has been the only council in England to cut council tax bills.
“All councils have a duty to respond to the impact of the worldwide recession on the nation’s finances and the finances of hard-working families across our borough,” said H&F Council Leader Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh.
“We need to deliver better services for less money which is why we are cutting tax at the same time as putting more bobbies on the beat, improving our parks and making our streets cleaner. We managed to open the first new library in the borough for 40 years at virtually no cost to the taxpayer.”
Over the last three years the council has saved council taxpayers £42 million. This has been done by introducing competition to services – saving £5 million a year, by lowering the debt burden – saving £2.9 million a year – and by cutting more than 1,000 posts including outsourcing.
At the same time the council is prioritising front line services. It has contributed £4 million over two years to putting more bobbies on the beat in Fulham, Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush town centres; 93 per cent of streets are cleaner than national standards according to Tidy Britain; H&F parks are among the best in the UK with £8 million spent on improving open spaces officially recognised with three Green Flags; refuse and recycling is now collected on the same day and the borough has some of the best and most improved secondary schools in England.
“For most households council tax is the third highest bill,” said Cllr Greenhalgh. “Four years ago we set out on our mission to respond to the great economic challenges faced by our residents. Our aim remains the same - high quality council services at the lowest possible cost.
“We have managed to deliver better council services for less money. More for less is not just a catchphrase. It is a reality on the streets on H&F. With hard work and innovation, delivering lower taxes and better services is possible.”
And is appears that all this has proved popular with H&F residents. As the latest MORI survey of London councils shows, Hammersmith & Fulham is achieving the only significant increase in residents’ satisfaction with council services in the whole of London. The Government’s official watchdog – the Audit Commission – also judges the council to be among the best in Britain.