Camden and Haringey approve council tax rises amid Covid-19 impact

Cllr Richard Olszewski and Cllr Charles Adje.

Camden and Haringey's respective finance chiefs: Cllr Richard Olszewski and Cllr Charles Adje. - Credit: Camden/Haringey

Camden and Haringey both approved budgets which will see council tax raised as they look to fund the next year's activities.

The town halls voted to raise their share of council tax by the maximum 1.99%, in addition to a 3% rise in the "social care precept" which funds those particular services.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan is set to raise his share of council tax by 9.5% – £2.63 a month, on average.

In Camden, finance chief Cllr Richard Olszewski said: "The budget we're presenting to the council tonight is fully in line with every other budget this labour council has set - its priorities are supporting our residents and our communities, especially given the impact of the last 12 months."

Town hall plans include continuing to support vulnerable people impacted by the pandemic, and tackle poverty and homelessness.

The borough's Conservative opposition group proposed using savings found from sharing back-office council functions with Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster councils to fund new police bases in Hampstead and Swiss Cottage, and to create six further "streateries" in the borough.

Lib Dems in Camden argued in favour of using more than £2m of the town hall's reserves to put money into helping people back to work. Both amendments were rejected. 

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Plans to raise councillor allowances by 2.75% were also agreed at the meeting. Camden's opposition leader, Cllr Oliver Cooper, said this was "completely unacceptable".

Cllr Oliver Cooper called for a "root and branch" review. Picture: Cllr Oliver Cooper

Cllr Oliver Cooper wants more housing to be provided for families in Camden - Credit: Oliver Cooper

Haringey finance lead Cllr Charles Adje laid out plans which would see free school meals provision expanded, and increased funding for foodbanks and the town hall's Haringey Works employment support programme. 

He said it was an "ambitious" budget, adding: "We are presenting a progressive budget at a time of hardship. We have always been ambitious about what we can do as a council and the kind of change we can achieve."

Cllr Luke Cawley-Harrison. Picture: Haringey Lib Dems

Cllr Luke Cawley-Harrison is fighting for a Haringey fit for the future - Credit: Haringey Lib Dems

Cllr Luke Cawley-Harrison, leader of Haringey's Lib Dem opposition group, said Labour should rethink plans to spend £12m on its Wood Green Civic Centre base.

He said: "Now is simply not the time to be spending millions on new council offices that may become redundant before they are even completed."

At meetings later this week the Conservative-led Barnet and Westminster Councils are set to vote on their own budget proposals. 

Barnet is likely to approve a maximum council tax increase, but Westminster is instead only going for a 0.5% raise.