Merton Council’s has agreed an overall council tax increase of just 1.9%, the lowest increase seen in the borough for 15 years.
The proposals, which were agreed by full council on Wednesday 4 March, 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%. This increase equates 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
This budget was put together with minimal funding input from central government. Despite the pockets of severe deprivation 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 £25.4million. 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: ‘This budget 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.
‘It 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.’