Merton Council’s Cabinet has responded to residents concerns about Council Tax rates by putting forward innovative proposals that will help keep increases low this year and next.
Merton Council Leader, Councillor Andrew Judge’ said: ‘It is clear from our Residents Surveys that the level of the Council Tax is an important local concern. Our local MPs Roger Casale and Siobhain McDonagh have also campaigned consistently for low ‘year on year’ increases.
‘What residents want is stability in their finances with only affordable increases in the council tax. For the last few years we have ensured that the relative level of Merton’s Council tax increases has been low, so that our council tax has moved from being the 3rd highest in London (out of 33) to the 10th highest in outer London (out of 20).
‘But this year we have recognised that we need to go further. So we have spent the last year examining every part of the Council’s budget and come forward with proposals for £12m savings. This has been difficult, but we have sought to priortise the concerns of residents for good street cleaning, refuse collection, recycling, fly tip and graffiti removal, whilst also protecting services to the vulnerable, added Cllr Judge.
‘We have also received a very good financial settlement from central Government: the 2nd best in outer London and the 3rd highest in London. This includes an additional £7m (or 6.5% extra) to pass straight onto schools and an extra £7.5m in grants for social services. We want to thank Roger Casale MP and Siobhain McDonagh MP for their work in championing Merton’s case.
‘Our own budget work and the best settlement in years have allowed us to be innovative in two ways: Firstly, we have announced a proposal for a 2.5% increase in the Merton Council element of the Council tax. Secondly, we can announce that we will be aiming to achieve a similarly low increase next year.
Cllr Judge concluded ‘Merton’s financial future looks better than for many years and we think residents should have the benefit.’
The Council will agree the final budget on 2nd March.