I am delighted to announce that my council, Hammersmith and Fulham, is proposing to cut the Council Tax next year by 3.75%. Our costs our being driven down by reducing our debt (and thus our bill for debt interest) and tri-borough arrangements with Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea which reduce admin.
It will be fifth year out of six that council tax bills come down. The average council taxpayer in H&F is set to be £243 better off compared to the average Londoner… based on four years of tax cuts at a time when average council tax bills in the capital have risen by £73.
We are also on course to cut its historic debt from £176 million to a projected £94 million by the end of the next financial year saving our local taxpayers £7.1 million in debt repayments every year.
It will be interesting to see if Kensington and Chelsea cut their Council Tax. If they don't then we will just overtake them and have the third lowest Council tax in the country. (We still have some way to go to get bills down to the level in Westminster and Wandsworth.) I would be delighted if K&C do cut their Council Tax. A bit of friendly rivalry in this regard is positive.
Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, the Leader of H&F, said:
“Combining services, management, overhead costs and expertise across councils is not only leading to better services in many areas, it is ensuring that taxpayers are enjoying some of the lowest council tax bills in the country.
“Whilst the cost of living continues to rise, we are proud to be putting money back in the wallets of our local taxpayers and we are proud to be protecting frontline services.”
"We are leading the way in sound financial management which has led to lower tax bills, lower debt and better services. Part of that prudent management involves sharing services and management costs across borders. This ensures that we have the very best people doing the job. Take libraries for example – it means we can keep our libraries open and our residents can enjoy a better service because they will be able to borrow books from any library across the Tri-Borough areas.”
Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, welcomed the move by saying:
"Councils need to do their bit to help families and pensioners with the cost of living. The Government's council tax freeze initiative is helping keep bills down, but Hammersmith and Fulham has gone even further by cutting council tax yet again. Its councillors and officers should be congratulated for protecting frontline services and making creative savings through more joint working and better property management."
We will make £3.2 million in tri-borough savings next year. That is just part of our reduction in bureaucracy. Our accommodation footprint has come down from 56,047 sq yards when we took over to a projected 42, 209 sq yards next year.