Hackney’s council tax set to rise by 3% as mayor warns: ‘We’re at breaking point’
PUBLISHED: 18:13 19 February 2018
Council tax is set to rise by 3 per cent from next month if town hall chiefs give the go-ahead on Wednesday.
It comes as mayor Phil Glanville warns the council is at “breaking point” following seven years of austerity.
The hike follows a similar one last year, and will raise £2.2m, costing those living in Band D properties an extra 60p a week.
Along with efficiency savings and “thinking outside the box”, the council hopes it will be enough to plug any shortfall in vital services like adult and children’s social care left by the shrinking government grant – which stands at £180m compared with £310m a decade ago.
Mr Glanville described the budget as the “toughest in many years”.
“This council has a strong financial track record,” he said, “but seven years of government cuts are taking their toll on public services, as more and more people are turning to councils for support, with less and less money available to help them.
“We’re now in our seventh year of austerity, and people are well used to the idea that public service budgets have been slashed. But for many councils, including Hackney, the impact is only really being felt now. Quite simply, councils are at breaking point.”
Hackney has seen the biggest funding cut of any London borough, at £512 per head of population.
While the council slashed its management bill from £18.4m to £9.7m, and saved another £40m through back office efficiencies, Mr Glanville warned it is now “running out of options”.
Some savings were put into play a year ago, like the closure of Hillman Street cashiers where people could buy parking vouchers and pay business rates and parking fines.
Meanwhile the decision to cut council tax benefit was signed off by cabinet in January and will see some of the poorest people paying an extra 2pc towards council tax.
This morning, the council’s finance chief Ian Williams told the Gazette: “An awful lot of the work has to be done well in advance of the financial year and this is what the team has been doing for a few years now because of austerity.
“The budget has to be robust and balanced, which is getting harder to do, and that’s the kind of discussions we are having – not just us but across the country.
“This is just unsustainable to councils, and there are some smaller boroughs which have nowhere to go. And you can’t just say you aren’t going to do it, because of the law.”