Hammersmith & Fulham Council has published its budget proposals for 2019/20, including more funding for social care and services to tackle violent crime.
H&F Council is the only authority in the country to have abolished all charges for home care for elderly and Disabled people. The new budget continues that no charge commitment and provides for £10.8million additional spending, much of that for social care for children, elderly and Disabled people.
However, continued government austerity and rising demand for services has forced H&F Council to propose an inflation-level increase in council tax bills of 2.7 per cent.
That means £19.65 for a typical Band D property – or 5.4p per day.
Third lowest council tax in the country
Council tax bills in Hammersmith & Fulham will remain the third lowest in the country this year.
The government's social care levy will also apply for the first time ever to meet the growing cost of looking after older and disabled people in the borough. In previous years the council has stepped in to stop this levy being applied in H&F, and at two per cent it will be only a quarter of the amount modelled by Government.
In the 10th year of government-imposed austerity, H&F Council will get £3.5m less this year from the government. That’s £73m reduction in 10 years – a 59 per cent reduction in real terms.
Stripping out waste
“Ruthless financial efficiency has enabled us to freeze or cut council tax every year for the last four years – the only council in London to achieve this,” says council Leader, Cllr Stephen Cowan. “To make that possible, we’ve stripped out layers of historic waste and inefficiency and overhauled every aspect of the way the council works.
“But the scale of government cuts means we can no longer continue to resist government pressure to increase council tax.
“No-one wants to pay more, but neither do they want to see services undermined by government underfunding. Decent social care for our children and for our older and disabled people is particularly important to the residents of our borough. It’s not a decision we take lightly, but we’ve concluded most local residents would rather we increase bills under these circumstances.
“We’re a compassionate council first and foremost, and to continue to do the best for all our residents, we’re renewing our pledge to get the most out of every penny we spend – despite the disastrous funding position the government has foisted on councils across the country.”
The council will take its formal decision on 27 February on its 2019/20 proposals to:
- accept central government’s ‘adult social care precept’ levy applied at two per cent (the government has assumed an eight per cent levy when they model how much funding councils need)
- increase the Hammersmith & Fulham element of the council tax by 2.7 per cent – in line with inflation
- set a total net expenditure budget of £136.678m
- add growth of £10.8m to meet statutory obligations, rising prices and growing demand for services
- make savings of £10.3m to balance the 2019/20 budget.
Bills are half the London average
The current H&F Band D charge of £727.81 is half the London average of £1,405, and over £1,000 lower than the shire areas average of £1,749 according to government statistics (pdf).
97 per cent collection rate
H&F Council works hard to ensure everyone pays their fair share of council tax – collection rates are currently running at 97 per cent of the total owed.
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