Merton Council’s Cabinet last night proposed an overall council tax increase of just 1.9%, the lowest increase seen in the borough for 15 years.
The proposals, which will not be finally approved until agreement by full council on Wednesday 4 March 2009, come at a difficult time of decreasing income and increasing demands for the council’s services.
The lower than inflation increase combines the Merton element of council tax at just 2.5% with the zero per cent increase in levy charged by the Greater London Authority bringing the total increase to just 1.9%. If the budget is agreed this increase will equate to a band D Merton council tax of £1,118.78 per year, or residents paying on average just over £2 extra per month per household for council services. Additional levies for band D council taxpayers over the year will be £309.82, bringing the total amount to £1,428.60.
These proposals have been put together with minimal funding input from central government. Despite the pockets of severe deprivation that are prevalent within the borough, as an outer London borough Merton receives the third lowest level of total funding in the whole of London, and in 2008/09 got just £788 per head, almost 30% below the average figure of £1121.49.
Without this extra funding over £7million worth of savings have had to be proposed to balance the books in the forthcoming year, bringing total savings since 2007/08 to over £25.2million. A further £14.5 million will be required to balance the budget for 2010-2011.
Councillor Samantha George, deputy leader of Merton Council and cabinet member for corporate resources said:
‘ The budget we have put forward has taken a lot of hard work. Making savings and becoming more efficient is crucial to ensuring we can offer good value for money for residents without negative impact on key services.
‘ This budget shows that despite the difficult economic climate and the fact Merton receives one of the worst levels of funding in London from central government, we are absolutely committed to keeping council tax as low as possible to put our residents’ needs first.’
London Borough of Merton
020 8545 3327
Notes to editor:
– Merton is increasing council tax by only 1.9% – this refers to the overall increase, including both Merton’s council tax at 2.5% increase and levy from the GLA which is not increasing. There has not been an overall increase so low since 1995.
– All details are subject to final agreement at full council on Wednesday 4 March 2009.
– Rise is lower than inflation – CPI at 3% as at January 2009. CPI is central government’s preferred measure of inflation.
– Total savings since 2007/2008 equate to £25.214million and break down as: