Tag Archives: council tax

Conservatives Hold Down Council Tax Rise

  • Just 0.9% Average Over Last Four Years
  • Financial Boost Given to Local Priorities

Bromley Council has once again set a balanced budget, despite continuing financial pressures, with a council tax rise of just 42p a week at Band D.

Total Council Tax, including the Conservative Mayor of London’s portion, will increase by just 1.6% – close to the current inflation rate of 1.3% (RPI). This is despite the council facing a budget gap of £25m over the next four years, as central government continues to drive down the national deficit still lingering after Labour’s thirteen years of mismanagement.

In fact, thanks to sound Conservative financial management at both Bromley Civic Centre and City Hall, total council tax has increased by an average of just 0.9% in the last four years.

Included in this year’s budget was a 2% ‘ringfenced’ council tax increase for social care, and £19m in savings focussed, as far as possible, on non-essential expenditure and administration cuts.

Council Leader Cllr Stephen Carr said: “We have had to make this increase in Council Tax this year to help balance the budget and have introduced the 2 per cent precept allowed by the Chancellor to help meet the costs of care, as our population ages and more people have complex care needs. This is particularly acute in Bromley where we have a larger-than-average ageing population. During our budget consultation last year many residents again said they understood the need for a rise in Council Tax to help protect essential services.

“We have the lowest funding per head of population in London and, as budgets contract, we have to do things differently, even stopping some services. Supporting people to be more self-sufficient with signposting to online services, for instance, helps to conserve limited funding for those who need help most and for services that reflect the priorities of local residents.”

The budget also includes two years’ transitional funding from Central Government, won after intervention from the borough’s Conservative MPs including Bob Stewart.

The Leader of the Council also added: “As a result of our strict and determined budget monitoring, I am delighted to announce we are in a position to set aside £750,000 from underspends in the current year’s budget to allow us to further enhance our environment.

The proposals are:
• £250,000 to enhance our environment, particularly to help with the maintenance of trees and replacing those that have been lost.
• £250,000 to attack the scourge of environmental crime, especially fly-tipping.
• £250,000 to enhance and improve local shopping parades, building on a successful programme of local shopping district improvements over the last couple of years.

Positive Agreement Reached on BYMT’s Future

At the Council’s budget-setting meeting, it was announced that an agreement had been reached with the Bromley Youth Music Trust (BYMT) regarding the final phase of the council’s reduction in funding for the trust.violin

The proposed cut in funding for 2015/16 of £230,000 was scaled back to £153,000. The proposed full withdrawal of the direct grant for 2016/17 remains, however the existing peppercorn rent for the Southborough Lane site – equivalent to some £200,000 per annum – also remains until the end of the lease in April 2017.

In addition, the Trust is responding more positively to the Council’s efforts to assist them in securing more sources of funding from elsewhere. The agreement should set the scene for a successful transition for the Trust to greater independence from the Council without compromising its nationally recognised reputation for youth music.

Council Tax Set for 2015/16

pound_coinsAt last week’s Council Meeting, the 2015/16 council tax in Bromley was set at £1,325.14 at Band D – an increase of just 1.2%.

At the same time, savings of £8.8m were approved. Council leader Cllr. Stephen Carr said there could be “no gimmicks, short term political decisions” and noted that while other councils have been cutting essential core services, such measures have been laregly avoided in Bromley. Even so, tough decisions will still be necessary in the future, as the council still faces a forecast £52m budget gap by 2018/19.

60 Million Questions … But No Easy Answers

pound_coinsOver the next four years Bromley Council will need to make savings of nearly £60m out of a budget that currently totals around £200m. If you had to take that 30% out of the budget, how would you prioritise the many services the Council provides?

Bromley received the second lowest government grant (per head) in London but, because we are already a low spending council, we also have the lowest Council Tax in Outer London. However, central government is reducing funding to local government as part of the effort since 2010 to get the national finances back on an even keel, and the effect on councils is amplified by the commitment to protect NHS and education budgets.

Against this background, all councillors – including us here in Hayes and Coney Hall – are going to have the make some very difficult decisions.

Now you can tell the council what you think, either online here or at one of the two public meetings taking place:

20th November 7pm at Orpington Methodist Church, Sevenoaks Road BR6 9JH
28th November 11am at Bromley Civic Centre, Stockwell Close BR1 3UH