Council tax set to rise in Camden, Barnet and Haringey

Cllr Theo Blackwell defended the council tax rise as necessary in the face of ever increasing cuts

Cllr Theo Blackwell defended the council tax rise as necessary in the face of ever increasing cuts - Credit: Archant

Camden Council has confirmed council tax rates are set to rise by almost four per cent from April, including a two per cent precept to pay for the soaring costs of adult social care, plus a basic rise of 1.99 per cent - equivalent to around 80p per week per household.

Tory finance spokesman Don Williams said Camden taxpayers have been hardhit

Tory finance spokesman Don Williams said Camden taxpayers have been hardhit - Credit: Archant

Neighbouring Haringey and Barnet are also recommending a social care precept of two per cent and 1.7 per cent respectively, but without a baseline increase.

All three local authorities will vote on the proposed increases at full council meetings before the end of this month.

Cllr Theo Blackwell, Camden’s finance chief, said that whilst it may be unpopular, the increase is necessary.

He said: “We’ve kept council tax at inflation level increases or frozen it over the past ten years. Had it always gone up with inflation, it would be higher than it is by around £250 per year.

“However, with the combination of government cuts and a rising population, we can’t carry on freezing council tax every year, especially with adult social care, which is facing very severe pressures right now across the country. We have to make sure there is enough to invest in this area.

“By 2020, Camden’s population will have increased by 20,000 at the very least, and that means more older people and more children. We can’t carry on freezing council tax every single year.”

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The proposed rise in Camden equates to an average rise of just under £42 per year for each council-tax paying household.

Cllr Blackwell said the rise will not be enough to meet increased demands on the council, but it should offer temporary respite.

He said: “Each successive year, we have to cut public services by around £15-20million, and one per cent on council tax rates will generate £800,000. It’s nowhere near enough, but we need to take it now, to build it into the budget.”

But the Camden Conservatives said that whilst they support the two per cent precept, introduced by Chancellor George Osborne last year, they do not support the increase to the basic rate.

Cllr Don Williams, Conservative finance spokesman, said: “Having seen a council tax rise of 1.99pc last year, we don’t believe hard working residents should face another council tax rise this year.

“We are examining ways to cushion the blow to residents of the social care precept.”

Cllr Williams said that instead of raising council tax rates, money could be made through a combination of savings in administrative costs and reducing communications and printed costs, like the Camden Magazine. This would be supplemented by the generation of revenue from new sources.”

He pointed to Westminster Council as an example of a local authority which he says is run in a more efficient way, and said Camden should look to make further cuts to back office staff rather than asking residents to stump up.

Haringey said the precept will cost the average family in the borough just 46 pence a week whilst generating an extra £1.7million a year for social care, which accounts for one third of the council’s total spend on services.

Cllr Jason Arthur, Haringey’s chief of resources, said: “We’ve seen our budgets slashed by the government year on year since 2010, and latest projections show that we could have lost as much as half our grant funding by 2018.

“It’s really important to make it clear that the two per cent precept will not be enough to bridge the huge gap we face in funding for adult social care.

“But our hope is that it will help us to meet demand in the short-term, while we redesign services to have a stronger focus on early help, independent living and community-based support”.

Council tax in London also includes a precept for the GLA (Greater London Authority), which is expected to be reduced slightly when Boris Johnson sets his final budget at City Hall this morning.