The news this morning is of a "tough" expenditure settlement for local authorities. Council chiefs are telling the BBC that they will either have to cut services or increase council tax.
One council that is choosing a different road is Tory-controlled Hammersmith and Fulham, led by Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh.
H&F cut council tax bills by 3% last year and it has just announced that it is doing the same this year.
A press release from H&F (H&F pdf) identifies some of the efficiencies that are helping the council to deliver this second 3% reduction:
- £1.1million from streamlined human resources services and increased productivity
- £1million from reduced debt repayments
- £539,000 from providing services on-line and other customer access improvements
- £468,000 from reduction in office space
- £625,000 from market-testing services
- £150,000 from reducing energy consumption
Cllr Mark Loveday issued this statement to ConservativeHome.com:
"We were elected last year on basic Conservative principles of lower taxes, better services and cracking down on crime. We are simply delivering on those promises. Two big tax cuts in our first two years is what we were elected for.
But it’s much more than that. We have managed to increase our Audit Commision rating to four stars – which means we now offer the very highest standard of services across the board. We are spending millions more on things that really matter – like the first ever New-York style 24-hour police teams that we put into our town centres.
Labour was congenitally incapable of doing these things in the decades that they ran the Town Hall. The waste was incredible. They survived in power by employing armies of taxpayer-funded special advisers. The press department had more PR officers than the number of journalists working on our local papers. The union stanglehold meant nothing was ever market tested. All that has changed over the last 18 months.
It’s these simple things which mean we can return money to the taypayer while improving things for residents. That’s what the Conservative Party is all about."