Council tax set to rise by nearly 4 per cent

PUBLISHED: 13:45 12 February 2020 | UPDATED: 13:55 12 February 2020

Council tax is set to rise by nearly 4 per cent, as per new budget proposals. Picture: Adriana Elgueta

Council tax is set to rise by nearly 4 per cent, as per new budget proposals. Picture: Adriana Elgueta

Adriana Elgueta

Council tax is to increase by 1.95 per cent, with an additional 2 per cent increase for the social care precept, totalling 3.95 per cent.

The precept is a tax to be used exclusively for social care. In total, this represents a £1.07 increase per week for the average Havering household.

The figures were revealed as Havering Council publishes its budget proposals for 2020/2021.

According to the council, the increase is to ensure no library closures and longer opening hours, more health workers, investment in parks, investment in high streets and housing.

Reacting to the new proposals, Labour councillor, Keith Darvill said: "It's a pretty gloomy situation, the background pressures are causing council tax to rise above the rate of inflation.

"Particularly those with low incomes will suffer and it's clear that austerity is not ending despite what the Conservatives have been saying.

"We are being failed by our MPs, central government are strangling local government and cuts being imposed will cause major problems to the council delivering its services."

Cllr Darvill thinks child services and social services could be seeing the biggest hit, with Havering experiencing an increase in children in the borough.

Damian White, the leader of Havering Council, said: "Once again we have worked hard at presenting a balanced budget to make sure vital front line services are not affected, but at the same time finding savings.

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"The good news is that the government have signified that austerity has ended and we will receive a 'Boris bounce' of some additional budget this year.

"However, it will not reverse the years of savings we have had to make in the past and we still need to deliver £14million in savings to close the budget gap.

"However, it is not all doom and gloom and we are able to make some positive changes through sound budget management."

For public health and social care, the council is promising an increased investment in the health visiting team by £280,000 over next three years to employ an extra 15 staff, such as health visitors, community nurses and nursery nurses. It also hopes to recruit new "local area co-ordinators", who will approach, or be introduced to people, who may be isolated.

New proposals for housing include a multi-million pound investment to regenerate town centres to support local businesses.

The council also pledges to make available a £13m pot to buy back homes and to continue with large-scale joint-venture housing schemes to address shortages.

A new Welcome and Assessment Centre is also proposed to provide homeless families in Harold Hill with somewhere to stay until they find somewhere more permanent.

For libraries, the council is promising £200,000 to increase opening hours and an extra £375,000 capital investment to improve internet access in libraries.

Harrow Lodge Park is set to see improvements, a new leisure centre for Rainham is on the cards and Hornchurch leisure centre is on track to open in the autumn.

The council has pressures to save £65m over the next four years and has a remaining gap of £17.6m which it is hoping to meet by 2023/24.

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