Havering residents’ council tax bills set to increase

Council is set to increase by 3.99 per cent

Council is set to increase by 3.99 per cent - Credit: Archant

Residents face a bigger council tax bill after a 3.99 per cent increase was given approval on Wednesday.

A financial plan was passed by Havering Council’s cabinet and will go before full council to be signed off on February 24.

Council leader Cllr Roger Ramsey said: “We increased council tax for the first time in five years last year, and sadly, we have to do this again this year because we’re faced with increasing costs and even less funding from government.

“We don’t want to do this but we’re in a position where we have to.”

The 3.99pc increase includes a 2pc rise allowed by central government to meet increasing social care costs – 54pc of people who responded to a consultation to this plan said they were in favour of the increase.

For residents this rise will be offset by a decrease in the Greater London Authority’s precept due to the end of the Olympic levy.

With this taken into account someone living in a Band D property will see an increase of about 57p a week.

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Even with the planned council tax increase the authority had faced dipping into its reserves to balance its budget, until the government announced it would receive a £1.3million transitional grant on Tuesday.

The money is intended to ease dramatic cuts announced in December which left Havering £5million worse off than it had anticipated.

Cllr Ramsey said he was grateful for the grant, but described the government’s cuts, which will take away 96pc of funding by 2020, as “adding injustice to injustice”.

He said: “It’s a big help, it’s really encouraging that at least to that extent that ministers are listening. But we are not satisfied because we do not agree with the way it’s been changed.

“We have always been willing to take our share of austerity, but we still feel the changes made in December are adding injustice to injustice.”

It is anticipated that by 2020 regional authorities will be allowed to keep a greater proportion of business rates, which will help to ease the pressure.

But, in the meantime Cllr Ramsey said the authority will have to consider savings and cuts in some service areas.

Among the proposals are putting a sports and leisure contract out to tender and reducing the Havering Show to a one day event, something Cllr Ramsey said he did not want to do.

Going forward, the council leader said he would keep “hammering away” to get a better deal.

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