Contact us: Got a photo? Text 'SLPICS' to 80360. Got a story? Call the newsdesk: 020 8744 4244
Council leader 'not hopeful' about council tax freeze
Residents are gearing up to the prospect of seeing an increase in their council tax bills for the first time in three years.
Leader of Kingston Council Derek Osbourne admitted he was not hopeful about council tax being frozen in Kingston for the third year running.
Meanwhile, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson has announced a 7p a week cut to his share of the council tax.
He will ask the Metropolitan Police to take a 10 per cent cut and reduce frontline fire cover to allow the 1.2 per cent tax reduction.
A band D property currently pays £1,352.19 a year to Kingston Council and £306.72 to the Greater London Authority.
But when councillors set the budget in February the borough will have had the amount of money from Government slashed by 13.2 per cent for the coming year with further cuts of 8.8 per cent scheduled for the following financial year.
This means Kingston Council will have £48.2m to spend from 2013 to 2014 and an even lower £43.9m the year after.
Coun Osbourne said: “I am not hopeful that there will be a freeze in council tax. At the moment we have managed to hold on and continue to provide services.
“But that will be the issue – can we sustain it without devastating our services?
“We have got artificial hope from Pickles [Eric Pickles, Secretary for Local Government] that it is easy to freeze council tax but we have got to be innovative with funding now. We will be making the decision in a couple of weeks time.”
If councillors agree on a council tax increase by more than a two per cent rise then a referendum asking voters if they are willing to pay it will take place. This figure was originally 3.5 per cent and some authorities chose to raise their council tax to this amount.
But Kingston Labour leader Laurie South said: “Kingston has been too dependent on central Government. I think what is needed is a complete reform of local government finance not dependent on a strange taxing system. It is a real serious problem we have got.”
In 2010 Kingston’s 2.4 per cent council tax rise was the highest in London and nearly double that of Bromley.
Kingston residents still pay one of the highest council tax rates in the country.