Hammersmith & Fulham Council has become the only borough in the capital to cut council tax thanks to plans to work more efficiently.
Councillors cut council tax by 1% at a meeting last night (Wednesday February 25), making H&F only one out of eight councils across the country proposing to reduce the charge. Other key charges are being frozen, cut or abolished. Overall, income from fees and charges is budgeted to drop by almost 4%.
They also approved a raft of measures to improve residents’ lives thanks to a wide range of money saving changes including negotiating more effectively with suppliers and developers, sharing more services with other boroughs and attracting more clients for our commercial services such as business waste.
H&F Council Cabinet Member for Finance, Cllr Max Schmid, said: “We have gone through budgets line by line so that we can put money back into residents’ pockets despite massive government cuts to our funding. We are determined to make this council the most efficient and effective local authority in the country.”
The planned money-saving changes include:
The council spends large parts of its budget buying goods and services from its suppliers. We are re-negotiating contracts to reduce these costs by £3.5m a year without harming services. This includes getting better prices for office stationery, IT and road maintenance.
The council is applying over £4m investment that we have negotiated from outside organisations to protect and enhance services for local residents. This includes investment from property developers to protect and enhance local policing and investment secured from the NHS for social care.
By reducing and restructuring our debts this year, we have been able to cut the cost of our debt payments by £750,000 a year.
We are raising revenue from sources other than council tax payers to help pay for services. We plan to raise an additional £3.8m from increased commercialisation including attracting more clients to our commercial waste services and raising more money from advertising.
Senior management and back office costs
We are further reducing our staff costs by cutting senior management, reorganising the way we administer council services, cutting council magazines and lamppost banners and using IT systems more efficiently. This will save us almost £2m a year.
Sharing services better
Finding £2.3million savings from better sharing services with other councils and public sector bodies. It includes extended sharing in finance, HR, legal, adult social care, as well as transport and technical services, with back office costs cut as a result.
Cutting office costs
With fewer staff and mobile working arrangements, we have been able to reduce the amount of office space we need, saving more than £2.5m a year.
We are working hard to help residents avoid crisis situations and to proactively support people to live independently wherever possible. In addition to improving lives, this also reduces cost to the council. We have also been able to increase the number of children looked after by foster families, where they have better outcomes, rather than in more costly residential care.
The changes will help fund plans to abolish the £12 per hour charge for vital home care needed by elderly and Disabled people; freeze many council charges including those for parking and school meals; and cut some charges, such as meals on wheels which will fall by 33% and bulky waste collections which will fall by 10%.
In December, the government announced cuts to Hammersmith & Fulham Council that will see its spending power reduced by 10% in the coming year.