Borough set to face 3.99 per cent council tax hike
PUBLISHED: 09:38 01 February 2016 | UPDATED: 16:54 02 February 2016
Council has to save more than £50million
A Labour councillor has claimed Bexley Council “put their head in the sand” over financial problems, after a council spokesperson has said it is “very likely” council tax will increase by the maximum amount possible this year.
As the council aims to save £56million by 2020, a 3.99 per cent council tax hike could be on the cards.
Growing pressure on adult social care and the cost of the National Living Wage has added costs on to the council, which has already lost its government grants.
Leader of the council, Teresa O’Neill said: “We have plans to make £31million of savings, but still have to find a further £25million.
“We will continue to give priority to our vulnerable residents, but we will need to increase council tax, make more tough choices and draw money from our reserves.”
A 1.99 per cent rise has been allowed, with the extra two per cent aimed to raise funds to cover some of the costs of adult social care.
But Labour’s councillor for finance and resources in Bexley, Daniel Francis, said residents will find the rise “perverse” when coupled with proposed cuts to youth services in the borough.
He said: “They are taking these decisions several years after forward thinking boroughs such as Greenwich and Lewisham took these decisions.
“Their decision to put their head in the sand and hope the problem would go away, couple with their Government’s desire to see the end of services provided by local councils has led to their current dire financial position.
“Local residents will rightly therefore find it perverse that at the same time as their street cleansing and youth services are being cut, children’s centre’s closed and parks are being sold off that their council tax is also rising by 3.99 per cent.”
Current plans are set for discussion at the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committees this month, before the council’s budget will be decided at the beginning of March.