Redbridge Council agrees 2018/19 budget - including a Council Tax hike

Havering Council has agreed to raise next year's Council Tax by 3.78pc. Photo: Matt Clemenson

Havering Council has agreed to raise next year's Council Tax by 3.78pc. Photo: Matt Clemenson - Credit: Archant

Redbridge residents will be paying £73.89 more in Council Tax next year after councillors agreed a rise of 5pc at a council meeting last night (Thursday, February 22).

This means that from April 1, the majority of Redbridge residents will see their Band D tax rise from £1,476.09 to £1,549.98.

The council’s budget for the next financial year, including this Council Tax increase, was voted through with 34 votes to 13, with three abstentions at Redbridge Town Hall in High Road, Ilford.

Debate during the meeting was cut short after an ambulance was called to help deputy leader of the Conservative Group Cllr Robert Cole.

He suddenly fell ill in the midst of proposing amendments to the revenue budget.

Cllr Cole was checked by paramedics and eventually released to go home.

After a 15 minute adjournment, councillors returned to the chambers to vote on all motions and amendments in without engaging in “knock-about” politics at the request of Cllr Paul Canal, leader of the Conservative group.

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All remaining budget proposals, including the Council Tax increase, were voted through without debate or amendment in less than an hour.

The tax increase breaks down as a 2pc adult social care precept, which is ring-fenced for helping the borough’s most vulnerable residents, and 2.99pc basic council tax, which the council can spend as it pleases.

This means that £29 of the tax increase is ring-fenced for use in helping the borough’s most vulnerable people.

Council leader Jas Athwal had planned to say: “The only option open to the council is to accept the government’s proposal and introduce a 2pc social care levy.

“The money raised through this levy is used solely to fund adult social care, which is needed to support and protect our most vulnerable residents in a time of ever increasing financial pressure.”

But the breakdown of the Council Tax increase differs from proposals released in November last year, where the adult social care precept was set to rise by 3pc, rather than 2pc, and basic Council Tax by 1.99pc.

In December, communities and local government secretary Sajid Javid increased the amount by which local authorities could increase basic Council Tax from 1.99pc to 2.99pc without needing to hold a referendum.

Therefore less money is ring-fenced for adult social care than was proposed in November 2017.

Speaking after the meeting, Council Leader Athwal said that in the council have undertaken a “transformation” of adult social care in the last year.

“Try living on half your income for 6 months, that what this council is doing,” he added, referring to central government cuts to local authority funding.

He added: “Because we have a three-year window to raise Council Tax, we are able to raise it next year.

“Sometimes when money is tight you can take money from one pocket and put it into another pocket to do this that and the other.”

Cllr Canal, also speaking after the meeting, said: : “Every 1 pc increase in Council Tax translates as a £1 million increase in council revenue.

“Right now this council is spending £5million a year on interim consultants.

He added: “It is simply obscene that one consultant can earn £180,000 a year when that can fund a meals on wheels scheme.”

“They are spending money in the wrong places.”

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