Hammersmith & Fulham Council make good on its pledge to secure a better deal for residents by freezing council tax and most charges, while giving a £3.4m cash boost to social care.
The budget was agreed at a full council meeting Wednesday night (22 February). It was approved along with other vital investments to help residents and local businesses.
The council tax freeze comes despite pressure from government to raise council tax bills four per cent a year – a move that attracted praise from the Taxpayers’ Alliance for H&F Council’s ‘proud record’.
“Once again we are freezing council tax and cutting charges at a time when the government is telling us to raise tax,” said H&F Council Leader, Cllr Stephen Cowan at the meeting.
“But it’s not just a smarter budget – it’s a more compassionate budget. We want to be the best council to tackle poverty, the best at reducing crime and anti-social behaviour, the best place to do business in Europe and the best at tackling poverty.”
While John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “When hard-pressed families are struggling with ever rising bills, it is crucial that councils do everything they can to ease the burden on residents.
“H&F Council has a proud record of cutting council tax so residents will be relieved that their bills won’t be going up next year.”
The council set the standard Band D charge at its current level of £727.81. An additional sum is charged by the Mayor of London which will be added to local bills. In total H&F bills are likely to remain the third lowest in the country.
The freeze follows a freeze on last year’s bills and a cut in 2015-16.
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Extra cash to protect borough’s most vulnerable
Vulnerable residents will also benefit from an £3.4m of new ongoing funding into adult social care every year.
The bonus has been made possible using resources saved by cutting waste elsewhere in the council and negotiating better deals with contractors and developers.
The new council money for adult social care is in addition to a one-off £900,000 grant that the council has secured from the Government for social care pressures.
The borough’s small businesses will also reap the rewards of H&F’s fiscal savy, thanks to a cut in the fees charged to traders at Lyric Square and North End Road markets.
The cut means many small traders will now see their overheads slashed, which will help entice new stalls and boost the borough’s aim of becoming the best place to do business in Europe.