Merton Council’s cabinet has agreed a reduction in the borough’s council tax for the first time in 16 years. The proposal will now be presented to full council for approval on Wednesday 3 March 2010.
If agreed by full council, Merton could be one of only a few London boroughs to put a decrease in place for the next financial year.
The proposal is based on the -1.4% RPI (retail price inflation) rate recorded in September and aims to recognise the pressures being faced by residents, in particular families and pensioners in Merton. The reduction has been achieved in part due to savings realised by the council’s transformation programme, which has focused on identifying savings from procurement and organisational changes. Further work, particularly in process re-engineering, is underway with an ultimate aim of delivering a council capable of continuous improvement.
In addition to realising operational efficiencies, the council has recognised the need to make long-term investment in key areas including schools, leisure facilities, the environment and other areas such as culture and heritage. The three year capital programme includes plans for a new school in Wimbledon, a new pool in Morden and an ongoing programme of investment in street paving, signage and tree planting.
Councillor Diane Neil Mills, Merton Council cabinet member for finance and regeneration said:
“This proposed reduction of 1.4% in Merton’s council tax recognises the financial struggles that many of our residents have been faced with in the last year. We are really proud to be able to put forward this change whilst maintaining our focus on efficiently delivered, high quality services.
“The proposals we will be discussing have meant making a number of very difficult decisions. However making changes to make the council work more efficiently has been key and, subject to full council agreeing the budget, our commitment to putting the needs of our residents first will have been met.”
Merton’s cabinet is proposing a 1.4% reduction in the Merton element of its council tax rate for 2010-2011, based on the September 2009 inflation (RPI) figure. The September RPI figure has been used as the reference point for council tax decisions since 2006, reflecting the commitment by Merton’s administration to keep council tax increases below the rate of inflation. It has also been the figure used by Central Government to set pensions and state benefits, although this year the Government has taken the decision to increase pensions and benefits by 2.5% from 1 April 2010.
All details are still subject to agreement at full council which takes place on Wednesday 3 March 2010.