Council tax set to rise in Brent by almost FIVE per cent
- Credit: Archant
Brent residents may see their council tax hiked by almost FIVE per cent after the Prime Minister announced local authorities can use it to raise more money for social care.
Brent Council is recommending the rise of 4.99pc following Conservative leader Teresa May’s announcement last month giving councils the green light to raise their social care precepts from two to three per cent for two years.
A report from the Scrutiny Committee recommends that the council consults at the highest rate as the tax remains its “primary lever by which to generate significant new income”.
Residents currently paying a Band D rate of £1,101.24 a year will see their bills rise by an extra £55.07 if the 4.99 increase is accepted by cabinet.
The poorest individuals who receive council tax support and pay only 20pc will inevitably see their weekly bill increase.
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The council had planned to consult on a general council tax inflation of 1.99pc with two pc ring-fenced for social care but this was hastily re-drafted after the announcement from central government.
A London Councils spokesman said: “London boroughs face a cumulative funding shortfall of £800million between now and 2020 in their adult social care budgets alone. Enabling them to increase the social care precept would be an inadequate response that would raise less in the areas that need it most. It would be a short term fix that would simply not be enough to fund the very real pressures on adult social care services and the NHS in London.”
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Alison Hopkins, a former Liberal Democrat councillor for Dollis Hill, accused the council of incompetence.
She said: “For the last five years the council could have upped it by two pc but they didn’t do that. It’s opened a bigger gap in funding and now they have been forced into a position where people will really notice.
“This is one of the most deprived boroughs and making a throwaway remark about a £1 extra is an insult.
“£1 a week if you’re working on the minimum wage or are a pensioner makes a big difference. I know for many people it’s a tipping point for going out to buy an extra pint of milk and not having it.
“This is about financial mismanagement and incompetence.”
Cllr Matt Kelcher, who chairs Brent Council’s scrutiny committee, said: “Brent Council has lost half of its budget since 2010. My panel closely scrutinised the further cuts proposed for this year and suggested other areas where savings could be made. However, we’ve now reached the point where the council simply cannot meet its obligations without also raising new funds. So it’s unsurprising that even the Prime Minister now recognises that local authorities need to raise council tax to continue to fund social care.
“We believe it is sensible that Brent - which has one of lower council tax rates in London, and recently froze the tax for five straight years - considers asking the average local rate payer to contribute an extra quid a week to protect these services for the future.”The council are holding Brent Connects meetings where residents can have their say on the plans, which form part of a ten-week consultation on budget plans.
They start on Wednesday at Patidar House in London Road, Wembley, in Tavistock Hall in High Street, Harlesden on January 18, Salisbury Primary School in Salusbury Road, Queen’s Park, on January 24, Performance Space in High Road, Willesden, on February 7, and Kingsbury High School in Princes Avenue, Kingsbury, on February 8.