Hackney is considering increasing council tax for the first time in a decade to make up for cuts in government funding, as the cost of helping the borough’s elderly and disabled residents continues to grow.
A two per cent increase in the council tax band D charge (or less than £20 per year) would generate £1.3 million to help fund services such as home care for older and disabled residents, day centres and the Older Person’s Freedom Pass, allowing free travel across London.
Hackney is set to lose £38million in Government funding over the next four years. Since 2010 the borough has lost 50 per cent of its central Government funding, or a total of £138 million. Taken together with cost pressures in adult social care and other key front line services, Hackney will need to make further savings totalling £58m by 2020, officials say. But there is some good news. Included in residents’ council tax bills is a precept to the Greater London Authority to help pay for policing, which looks set to be going down by about £19. According to the council website, this means that “the total charge of most bills in Hackney should rise by less than £1 a year.”
Jules Pipe, Mayor of Hackney said: “We froze council tax for 10 years because we recognise the pressure residents are under as the cost of living rises. By freezing Council Tax for so long, a Band D council taxpayer has saved more than £1,400 over the last decade, but we’ve reached the point where we can’t continue to do this.”
He continued: “Protecting and supporting older and disabled people is one of the most important things councils do and is our largest area of expenditure. However, rather than the Government fully covering the rising costs, their grant funding for councils is based on the assumption that council tax will increase to help cover the shortfall.”
Local residents are divided on the issue. A man who has lived in Hackney for 5 years said: “10 years frozen is enough.”
A single mother of two told East London lines that she thinks: “Raising council tax is not good news.”
This issue will be debated at a meeting of the full council on Wednesday March 2