Greenwich Council is planning to raise council tax by five per cent to make up for falls in government funding, it has announced in a consultation with residents.
Homes that have been empty for more than 10 years will face a 300% surcharge as the town hall tries to increase revenue and bring housing back into use.
Residents have to read a consultation that was published the day before Christmas Eve to find out about the planned 4.99 per cent hike – it has not been announced in any council press release. To take part in the consultation, visit the Greenwich Council website.
The coronavirus pandemic has and continues to put town hall finances across the country under severe strain, although so far Greenwich has not announced plans for redundancies as neighbouring Lewisham and Bexley have.
Greenwich’s plans are made up of a 1.99 per cent increase in general council tax and a three per cent increase for adult social care.
“Since 2010, the amount of money we receive from government has reduced significantly,” the council says. “This decade of austerity, combined with increases in costs, means that we are facing an estimated £150m pressure on our budgets – that’s over £1,000 per household. Significant finance and resources will also be required to deliver our Carbon Neutral Plan by 2030.”
Most councils are expected to announce rises in council tax this year after chancellor Rishi Sunak outlined plans to cut support for local authorities in last month’s spending review.
London mayor Sadiq Khan has today increased his portion of council tax by 9.5 per cent from April as City Hall tries to plug funding gaps caused by the pandemic.
The rise, which works out to an average of £2.63 a month or £31.59 a year per Band D household, will contribute towards transport and policing in London as both Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police look to make up for shortfalls caused by Covid-19.
Khan said he faced “huge pressure from government ministers” to increase council tax, but insisted he had kept the hike as low as possible.
He added: “With a lot of hard work, I have been able to limit the council tax increase this year to less than half of what some expected, in the face of huge pressure from government ministers to increase council tax to pay for public transport and policing in the capital.
“I fully recognise that in many households, finances are more stretched than ever before because of the pandemic and this decision is not taken lightly. Council tax is a regressive tax but the government have left us with little other option. The transport secretary told me that he expected council tax would have to go up in London and the home secretary assumed a huge increase rather than funding the police properly.
“I promise all Londoners that every penny of this will be put to good and efficient use keeping our public transport system running and keeping Londoners safe.”
Additional reporting by Joe Talora, Local Democracy Reporter
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