Merton Council agreed its budget for 2017/18 at last night’s full council (1 March 2017).
In response to what the Local Government Association has called a national crisis in adult social care, the council committed an extra £9 million in its 2017/18 budget to care services for older and disabled residents.
Members voted to freeze Merton’s core council tax and to implement the government’s precept to help towards funding adult social care.
The government hasn’t given Merton any extra money to deal with the national crisis in adult social care but instead expects councils to charge a new adult social care precept. In Merton, the government’s precept will mean an overall increase in council tax bills or 3% but the core Merton element will remain frozen.
The council also agreed, for the fifth year running, to absorb the government’s 2012 reduction in council tax support, ensuring residents on low incomes continue to receive the same amount of council tax support as in previous years. Merton is only one of a handful of the 300 councils across the country to have kept this support in place.
The council is focusing its efforts on ensuring Merton remains a great place for young families to live and grow up. Even in these challenging times, the council is building a new leisure centre in Morden, opening a new library in Colliers Wood and working with the Education Funding Authority to construct a new school at the heart of the borough in South Wimbledon. Merton is the birthplace of Little Leagues and there are still no charges at Merton’s parks for Little League games – while at the other end of the football pyramid, the council’s planners are working closely with AFC Wimbledon to return the club to the borough by the end of the decade.
The council’s investment in Mitcham and Colliers Wood means that those town centres are better designed for the people using the spaces. The council is also progressing with plans to revitalise Morden town centre, some of which is underway on London Road.
Merton Council cabinet member for finance Councillor Mark Allison said: “Merton has always been a great place for families, and we’re going to keep it that way. Many families are going through tough financial times and, with the government slashing the money it gives us to provide local services, councils like ours are also feeling the pinch.
“The government have allowed a national crisis to develop in care services for older people, but haven’t given us any extra money to solve it. Instead they are expecting councils to introduce a new council tax increase, the precept. Despite government mismanagement, we are running the council in a business-like way, with a new school, a new library and a new leisure centre all on the way. We are doing wonders to make this a great place for families to live and grow up, but the government needs to take responsibility for its failings and help us to do even more.”
The budget papers can be read in full on the council’s website.
Notes to editors
Budget key points
- Core Council Tax frozen for seventh year in a row to protect low paid residents from shouldering the burden of government cuts.
- £9 million more for Adult Social Care
- Implementing the government’s 3% precept on council tax to help fund adult social care
- Council Tax Support Scheme protected for low income residents
- £19.6 million for secondary school expansions across the borough, including a brand new school at the heart of the borough in South Wimbledon
- £9.5m to expand special educational need provision for disabled and developmentally or behaviourally challenged children, including at Perseid
- £4m to upgrade the borough’s footpaths
- £5.4m to improve our roads and highways
- New Leisure Centre in Morden and an additional £1.2m to improve leisure centres across the borough
- New library in Colliers Wood and investment in refurbishment of West Barnes library
- Overall investing £40m in the coming year in schools, roadways, parks, town centres, libraries and other big projects.