Kingston residents are set to face a 1.9 per cent council tax rise in April after the leader of the council promised to find an extra £400,000 of savings to reduce the 2.7 per cent increase formally recommended by the council's executive committee last night.

Council leader Councillor Derek Osbourne said the increase was due to the up-front costs needed to lever in nearly £300m of government funding to join the Building Schools for the Future programme of secondary school improvements.

Conservative councillors have already criticised the proposals for leaving the borough with the highest council tax level in London, and for spending too much money on Liberal Democrat “pet projects”.

Neighbouring Lib Dem controlled Richmond and Sutton are planning to freeze council tax, as is Mayor of London Boris Johnson, whose budget proposals were passed by the London Assembly on Wednesday.

Kingston's proposals will be examined by the scrutiny panel on February 23, before the final budget is set by full council on February 25, where Conservative councillors have said will reveal their alternative plans.