With continuing concerns over Government underfunding of Special Educational Needs costs and ongoing pressure on core services, Richmond Council is due to take the decision to raise Council Tax by 1.80 per cent to protect the quality of local services residents rely on.
This increase is below the maximum permitted by Government and in line with forecasts of consumer inflation for 2020/21.
The Council has also agreed a further 2 per cent increase in the precept for Adult Social Care, as allowed under government funding plans. These services are dealing with an ageing population and people requiring increasingly complex care support.
The announcements are in the lead up to the Finance, Policy and Resources Committee, which is due to review the Council’s proposed 2020/21 Budget and Council Tax setting on Thursday 20 February. Despite some increase in Government funding this year, the proposals continue to reflect the financial strain created by a more than £40 million cut in central government funding since 2010.
There is acute underfunding in the area of Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) support. The Council is having to provide against the shortfall to protect these vital services. There is a projected £15 million funding gap by the end of the year which is growing over time and threatening the Council’s finances and the services we provide.
The Council remains committed to delivering a fairer finance deal for residents and has made significant progress - abolishing the requirement for the worst off to pay 15% council tax, scrapping the charge to store possessions for those made homeless and signing up to the Living Wage Foundation. The Council has also launched a new charity - the Richmond Upon Thames Voluntary Fund - allowing residents to contribute to support vulnerable residents in our borough.
As part of the 2020/21 budget, the Council has built in additional investment to respond to specific areas of need. This includes:
Children’s and Adults Social Care services Delivery of the Council’s Climate Emergency Strategy Doubling the frequency of emptying the public recycling bins Additional staffing to strengthen the homelessness prevention teams
The capital program reflects the Council’s commitment to increase affordable housing provision, improve highways and pavements and deliver the Climate Emergency Strategy.
The Council’s drive to improve efficiency continues with a further £4m of benefits included in this year’s budget to help fund the required investments.
Following a review by the Finance, Policy and Resources Committee, the proposals will be reviewed by Full Council on the 3rd March 2020.
Cllr Robin Brown, Richmond Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance said:
“The long-term reductions in funding from Central Government have left the Council with very little room to ensure a fair deal for our residents whilst protecting the services they rely on.
“Our support from central government has been slashed by over £40 million since 2010. Since 2018/19, general grant received has been zero. Whilst increased grant funding for specific services was welcome this year, it doesn’t go far enough given previous cuts and continued underfunding of SEND. Richmond continues to be one of the lowest funded Councils in London - forcing us to rely on residents’ Council Tax to cover an increasingly higher share of service costs.
“This administration has always said it would be open and honest with you about the difficult financial choices the local authority faces. We are determined to manage the Council’s finances responsibly for the longer term and face considerable uncertainty about our funding for the future. We invest your Council Tax very carefully. We will continue to be open with you about the decisions we need to make to ensure the Council services continue to be of the highest standard and that we deliver on our key priorities such as tackling the Climate Emergency and providing more affordable housing.”
This means the overall Council Tax for a band D property in 20120/21, excluding the Greater London Authority element would be provisionally set at £1,539.57, an increase of £56.36 on 2020/21.
The Mayor of London’s precept on a Band D property will be £332.07 (increase of £11.56).
Councils are limited in how they can raise Council Tax by national legislation which doesn’t allow for different levels of changes between Bands. A rise in Council Tax for one band group, means must rise for all.
How much will people pay in Council Tax?
|BAND||Richmond Council 2020/21||Greater London Authority 2020/21||Total Council Tax 2020/21|
|A||£1,026.38||£ 221.38||£ 1,247.76|
|B||£ 1,197.44||£ 258.28||£ 1,455.72|
|C||£ 1,368.51||£ 295.17||£ 1,663.68|
|D||£ 1,539.57||£ 332.07||£ 1,871.64|
|E||£ 1,881.70||£ 405.86||£ 2,287.56|
|F||£ 2,223.82||£ 479.66||£ 2,703.48|
|G||£ 2,565.95||£ 553.45||£ 3,119.40|
|H||£ 3,079.15||£ 664.14||£ 3,743.29|
– from a Richmond Council press release - 20 February 2020