Wandsworth Council tax hike can be avoided, opposition Labour group claims
Opposition politicians have claimed reserves should be used to prevent a controversial rise in council tax.
Council leader Councillor Ravi Govindia announced plans to increase the levy by 3.1 per cent earlier this month, only the second increase in 10 years.
He blamed the increase on rising charges from other public sector organsiations that make up part of the bill.
Coun Govindia also believes this excuse should prevent the council being cut out of a £500,000 government grant offered to those who freeze their tax.
Labour councillors have attacked the plan, arguing using £900,000 from council reserves totalling more than £13m, would allow tax to be frozen at £683.72 for 2013/14.
Councillor Rex Osborn, leader of the opposition, said: "With many households across Wandsworth still feeling the squeeze, the Labour Group believes the council should be doing everything it can to help residents this year - not putting up council tax at a time when residents can least afford it.
"Furthermore, we're alarmed at its decision to gamble with £500,000 of taxpayers' money, by betting that some clever accounting will ensure it qualifies for the Government's council tax freeze grant."
Meanwhile thousands of council staff are facing uncertain futures after last month's announcement that four key departments will have to merge into two by October 2014.
The departments set to merge are: children services (799 staff); adult services (324); housing (432); and environment (732).
Coun Osborn said: "By announcing these half-baked plans without understanding all the repercussions, the leader has left hundreds of council employees fearing for their jobs, and concerned about the uncertainty which now lies ahead."