Ealing agrees council tax freeze

The decision, which was made at a meeting of the full council on Tuesday, 23 February, means the average council tax payer will benefit from a cumulative cash saving of up to £1,040 over the eight year period*.

The government has assumed that councils will increase council tax to fund social care and other services.  But in Ealing councillors voted in favour of the freeze, despite the government’s go-ahead to raise council tax by up to 3.9%.

Instead the council will allocate £2.3million extra for social care next year, rising to £4million by 2019/20. It will also create a special £5million social care transformation fund which will be used to redesign services so that fewer people need intensive help in future years. That social care funding package would exceed the amount of additional money that the council could raise through the government’s proposed council tax rise.

Council Leader, Councillor Julian Bell, said: “I’m delighted we’ve again been able to freeze council tax, despite the enormous pressures on our budgets in recent years.  I think it’s right to protect our residents from further financial burden.

“Although the last few years have been tough, we have also worked tirelessly to drive regeneration and attract new investment which has brought in new money and strengthened our local economy.  We will continue to show Ealing is open for business and capitalise on projects like Crossrail for the benefit of our residents. ”

The council expects to be able to freeze council tax and still balance its budget despite having less than half the money it had in 2010 to spend on services, thanks to its prudent financial management.

As soon as it became clear that local government would be facing major funding cuts, the council took immediate action to make savings as quickly as possible, putting the borough in a stronger financial position now.  The work that has taken place to boost the local economy by attracting more businesses has grown the council’s share of business rates by £2.6million and the creation of much needed new homes has increased the amount raised through council tax by £2.3million in 2015/16.  The council is also one of the best in London at collecting the council tax it is owed, which has helped to balance the budget. 

Councillor Yvonne Johnson, cabinet member for finance, performance and customer services, said: “As soon as it became clear that we would be facing major long-term cuts to our funding we took swift action to cut our costs, work more efficiently and reduce spending wherever possible to balance the books.  Our prudent approach to planning our finances and taking decisive action means that we are in a position to freeze council tax for the eighth year running.  We know people will be rightly concerned about social care provision, and while we cannot avoid the consequences of the overall reductions in council funding, we will lessen the impact by finding an extra £2.3million for social care in this budget. ”

The council will continue to face major budget cuts for at least the next four years and expects residents will notice the impact on services. However, it expects that future cuts in its government funding to be introduced more slowly than previously feared. The council is now making plans for a further £12milllion of efficiencies by April 2020, in addition to the budget reductions already agreed.

Council tax payers will also see the GLA levy for the London Olympics removed from their bills this year – reducing Londoners’ bills by £19.  

*The cash saving is worked out as an aggregate using council tax rising in line with RPI (for an average Band D home) up until 2011/12. Thereafter we have calculated the rise only up to the government cap in those years, except for 2016/17 where a rise of 3.99% is permitted.  

A band D council tax bill for 2015/16 is £1,354.93.  This includes the GLA precept of £295.00