Congratulations to Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea Councils for freezing their Council Tax levels for another year. Westminster has the second lowest Council Tax in Britain (you pay £5 less on Band D if you move to Wandsworth.) Westminster has made a bold plan to keep up the freeze for the next three years. Westminster's leader Cllr Colin Barrow says:
"Times are tough for many people and families who are already faced with increasing bills simply cannot afford tax rises.
"By freezing council tax for the third year we're showing our commitment to helping local taxpayers through this very difficult downturn.
"Like our residents, the council bears the impact of the recession but we are determined to retain and improve services rather than cut indiscriminately so we need to become even more efficient and effective in the months and years ahead.
"We could, however, do so much more if the government was prepared to scrap the hundreds of red tape and targets we have to deal with and instead give local councils greater power over key areas such as
business rates, licensing, housing and benefits."
In K&C, which has the fourth lowest Council Tax in England, they have identified £9.5 million of savings – including freezing councillor allowances and the pay of 800 senior staff. K&C charge £769.30 on Band D Council Tax. Our Band D charge in Hammersmith and Fulham in 2010/11 will be £811.78 – so we have still got some way to go in getting bills down to our western neighbours as well as our southern neighbours.
There are 16 Conservative led councils in London. Bexley is increasing Council Tax by 1%, Bromley by 0.94% and Croydon by 0.8%. But these modest increases are more than offset by reductions of 1.4% in Merton, 0.5% in Havering and 3% in Hammersmith and Fulham. As the other 10 are bringing in a freezes (as is Boris with the Mayoral precept) that means that on average Council Tax will be (fractionally) lower in London Conservative councils this year than last year.