Councillors last night (Tuesday 25 February) voted to approve a half a per cent cut in council tax for the second year running.
The council is one of only a handful in the country to cut council tax for the budget 2014/15. It comes a year after an initial cut of half a per cent, and follows a six-year freeze. It means the council’s band D charge will be £1,079.77 – £5.43 less than last year.
When taken together with the Greater London Authority’s charge, which is set by the Mayor of London, this means the total band D charge will be £1,378.77 – a saving of £9.43 on last year.
Following a motion from the Council’s Conservative group, which was accepted by the Labour administration, there will be an extra £1 million to tackle street cleaning over the next year, with the funding coming from the Council’s reserves.
Leader of Hounslow Council, Cllr Jagdish Sharma, said:
“For so many families in the borough, particularly in the wake of welfare reforms and the so-called bedroom tax, the struggle to make ends meet is becoming a battle. The cost of living crisis is a reality for too many of our residents. We understand this, and that is why we are cutting council tax for the second time, meaning a reduction of one per cent over the past two years. At the same time we are working hard to protect front-line services as far as possible and where possible, to continue to invest in them. For example, we are using our reserves to invest in additional school places for local children, and we will shortly be opening a new community resource centre in Hounslow so community groups will have the resources they need to help themselves. Work has also begun on a brand new leisure centre for Heston that will provide high quality facilities for local people for years to come.”
The cut in council tax comes despite the council having to find £60 million in budget savings over the last four years, with a prediction that a further £27 million will have to be saved over the next two years. Cllr Sharma added that despite the delivery of the pledge promises made by the council four years ago, and its good financial performance, the overall financial position continues to be extremely difficult.
“We have delivered on our promise to wage a fresh war on waste which has helped us save some £60 million from the Council’s budget, and on all of our other pledges – including securing the delivery of 2,574 new affordable homes, a 24-hour Grimebusters hotline, 100 uniformed officers helping to keep our streets safe, and extra cash to improve school standards.
The scale of the further cuts we are facing presents a major challenge and this will mean some of the toughest decisions about services and priorities that we have ever faced.”
The full report on the council’s budget can be found here.