Camden budget gets green light with council tax to rise

Mortgage Debt

Mortgage Debt - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Help for the most vulnerable was promised as Camden Council gave the green light to the maximum council tax allowance. 

Councillors laid out their budget plans at a full council meeting on Monday (March 7).

Outlining government cuts of 67% since 2020 and a  £19m Covid "black hole", Camden's financial chief Cllr Richard Olszewski said the council had "little choice to increase the council tax by the maximum amount" of 2.99%.

He said to mitigate the harm to low earners, £1m had been added "in a cost of living fund which we estimate will help more than 5,000 residents and they will be able to apply whether they are facing hardship whether they receive benefits or not." 

"The budget tackles the challenges that we face in Camden against 12 years of relentless onslaught from tax cutting and public service cutting," he said.

"If they had cut the council tax and not increase it they would have "a further black hole of £34m".

Conservative opposition leader Cllr Oliver Cooper called for council tax to be frozen, saying money could be raised through car clubs and renting out garages.

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"Camden has increased council tax more than any other London borough – shamelessly has increased it. Said every time it's just pennies but pennies add up to a lot," he said. 

Luisa Porritt, who is stepping down as a Liberal Democrat councillor, said the party would "restore real time costs to homelessness and services".

"People are waiting months for housing repairs, rubbish is piling up on our streets and the rising homelessness we've seen across our borough is shameful," she said. "Homelessness having increased across Camden by 7%, yet fallen in London by 3%."

Cllr Sian Berry said the Green Party had "four simple changes that will bring real benefits".

These include a resident empowerment fund, a £1m transition fund to "cancel all rent arrears" and provide ongoing support for community voluntary sectors, bringing more services in house, and bringing in three electric car chargers and bike hangers in every ward.

It would raise funds with a diesel surcharge for parking.

Labour councillors defended their record on funding education and youth services, keeping libraries open and providing funding for voluntary groups.

The budget was approved with 32 in favour, eight against and two abstaining.