Faced with massive cuts in Government funding, Richmond Council will be raising Council Tax to protect the key services that residents want and need.
Historically, under successive Governments, Richmond upon Thames has been poorly funded. The four year Finance Settlement arranged in 2016 has resulted in Richmond losing its Government General Grant by 2018/19. This continues to leave Richmond as the lowest funded Council in London with the Council Tax paid by residents covering an ever higher share of service costs.
Current levels of Government funding do not adequately cover a number of key council services such as children’s services and adult social care. Together these areas account for over half of the Council’s budgeted expenditure.
This is the backdrop against which, on Tuesday (6th March), the Council will discuss proposals to accept a further 2% Government precept for social care as well as a 1.99% increase in Richmond’s element of the Council Tax.
At the meeting, Members will hear how in responding to Government cuts, the Council has managed to make savings and efficiencies of £56m since 2011.
These savings have been achieved from internal restructuring, sharing of services with other organisations, procurement and contract savings and through more income generation. It also includes savings relating to the establishment of the Shared Staffing Arrangement with Wandsworth Council (SSA).
Cllr Stephen Speak, Richmond Council Cabinet Member for Finance, said:
“We seek to keep Council Tax as low as we can. This increase is less than the 5.99% maximum permitted by Government while still allowing us to keep investing in our borough. Our schools, our high streets, our highways and pavements and support services for vulnerable adults and children must all be paid for, with the Council Tax covering a greater proportion of the costs.
“Since 2011 we have successfully saved £56m from our budget, but by 2021 we have to find a further £20m. As the lowest funded borough in London this is a difficult challenge that will take innovative thinking and continued good management of the Council.
“To balance the books we have had to get slimmer and smarter in delivering our services. Successful implementation of our digital strategy will be a key next step in enabling services to be provided more efficiently at lower costs.
“Despite the intense pressure on our budgets we have still managed to deliver high quality services - and in the recent resident’s survey - I am pleased that 87% of people are satisfied with how we are performing. 70% of people recognise that we are providing value for money.
“This increase will ensure we can continue investing in our services. Together, we will keep Richmond upon Thames as the best borough in London”
— from a Richmond Council press release - 28 February 2018