Pay freeze at low tax council
by Hammersmith and Fulham Press Office
Council tax bills have tumbled by 3 per cent for the third consecutive year at Hammersmith and Fulham Council after councillors agreed the move at a budget meeting this week (Wednesday, 25 February).
At the same time directors and all councillors agreed to a pay freeze as a signal of the council’s ongoing commitment to cutting costs.
H&F Council Leader, Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, said: “We are responding to a time of great financial uncertainty for many hardworking families. Our approach in freezing member allowances and directors' pay is symbolic of our value for money ethos which runs throughout the council. We understand the economic pain that is out there and we are responding. The rigorous scrutiny of every penny spent starts at the top.”
After three years of tax cuts residents in H&F are expected to be around £175 better off compared to the average London borough - a massive boost when residents are struggling with the cost of living.
While cutting tax, the council is improving services and cutting debt. More than £13 million of red tape is being cut in 2009/10 by reducing staff numbers, office space and making better use of IT.
Official figures from the Office of National Statistics prove a 26 per cent rise in the number of H&F residents claiming job seekers allowance. The number of claimants has jumped from 3,231 in June 2008 to 4,040 in January 2009.
Cllr Greenhalgh continues: “The impact of the recession on hard working families in the borough is already becoming apparent. Councils need to wake up to this new reality and start acting in a more prudent way. In H&F we are well placed to ride out the storm as we have been reining in unnecessary costs for the past three years but it is time the for the rest of the public sector to wake up and follow our lead.”
Last year H&F received the highest rating of four stars from the Audit Commission for the quality of its services while resident satisfaction has increased nine per cent in the last year to one of the highest levels in London.