Wandsworth expected to freeze council tax for the coming year

Wandsworth Guardian: Councillor Ravi Govindia Councillor Ravi Govindia

Wandsworth Council is expected to announce a freeze in council tax for the coming year.

Proposals are being put forward to set bills for a Band D property at £681.77 for 2014/15.

The Mayor of London has announced a decrease in the Greater London Authority charge this year, which reduces bills for people in Wandsworth by £4.

Households living west of the borough will pay £709.15 for a Band D property, as they pay a levy imposed by the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators.

It comes after the council increased tax by 3 per cent last year, which meant the authority missed out on a £500,000 grant from the government.

By freezing the tax the council will now be eligible for the £514,997 grant from the Department of Communities and Local Government, paid in the financial years 2014/15 and 2015/16.

Last year the council announced plans to meet a spending reduction target of £80m, with more services expected to be slashed when the next budget is announced in March.

Funding is expected to be reduced by a further £29m this year, but the council have said money is being released from reserves to ease the drop.

Departments have been merged to save money, while directors have been cut from six to four in a major re-organisation of services.

Council leader, Councillor Ravi Govindia, said: "Despite further falls in Government funding over the coming year this council will continue to provide some of the best services in the country while protecting our residents from a tax increase.

"More of our work is now being outsourced to achieve better value for money and to harness the expertise, innovation and extra investment outside organisations can bring to council services.

"Because of Wandsworth’s robust financial position we will be able to release £18.5m from our reserves over the next few years to smooth the funding drop and ease our transition to an even leaner and more efficient council.

"Times will be tough for local authorities while the country continues to pay down its debts. In Wandsworth local people have a council they can trust to rise to the challenge, protect their interests and provide the excellent services they need."

Labour leader, Councillor Rex Osborn, said: "Wandsworth's Labour councillors wholeheartedly support the proposed freeze in council tax.

"It’s a shame that the Wandsworth Tories didn’t vote for our motion to freeze it last year as well.

"Instead, they were one of the only councils in the country to put it up, inflicting an increase of over three per cent on local residents.

"But we would also go further, making cuts to Wandsworth’s out of control executive pay bill, and using this and other savings to restore some of the services that the local Tories have cut - such as lollipop men and women."

Council tax in the borough is about half of the London average of £1,300.

Last year Westminster stole the crown from Wandsworth of having the lowest council tax in the capital, with their rates set at £680.74.

A final decision will be made by the council's executive group on March 5.


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