IMPROVED SERVICES IN NEXT BUDGET

Merton Council has set provisional figures for the next financial year’s budget and the estimated Council Tax charge.

As Merton now has a new structure, the provisional figures will be presented to the Executive Committee on Wednesday 24 January and then be passed to the Scrutiny Commission and individual Scrutiny Panels before going back to a special meeting of the Executive Committee on 28 February.

Only at this point will Merton’s Council Tax charge be confirmed.

Merton’s Council tax charge will be determined by the amount of Revenue Support Grant (RSG) the government awards the borough, the Greater London Authority (GLA) precept, and the amount of money the council needs to spend on services for the people of Merton.

The RSG Merton has been awarded, a 4.1 per cent increase on last year’s is in line with the national average (4.4 per cent) however it is lower than the London average (5.2 per cent) and the Outer London borough average (5.9 per cent).

Merton has received a lower RSG than both Sutton and Kingston. One of the reasons for this is because Merton has a low level of unemployment.

The amount of money the GLA wants to charge each borough has not been confirmed as yet but is likely to be around a 33 per cent increase. This will amount to a three per cent rise in the Council Tax charge on its own. The GLA precept will pay for the Police, Fire Service, Transport and Civil Defence.

Local authorities can try to influence what the GLA decides to charge councils, but the ultimate decision does lie with the GLA.

The Council is spending in excess of £5 million improving services for the people of Merton. These include:

· £100,000 for the Youth Service
· £1 Million on Special Education
· £64,000 on combating fly tipping and abandoned vehicles
· £55,000 on Green Waste collection
· £40,000 on graffiti removal
· £200,000 on weekly street cleaning
· £400,000 on children’s services
· £500,000 on residential placements for older people

The provisional Council Tax charge in Merton for the next financial year, including the GLA increase, at the moment stands at a 13 per cent increase on last year’s charge. This will mean a Council Tax Band D property will pay approximately £2 extra per week.

Chief Executive Roger Paine, said: ‘It is important to remember that the figures outlined at the moment are very provisional and the Council Tax charge will not be determined until our new Scrutiny process has been completed and final decisions taken at the end of February.

‘It is equally important, whatever the final fig