To help us meet the increasing cost of supporting our ageing and vulnerable residents, we are proposing to increase council tax for 2018-18 for only the second time in the last six years. We have followed the Government's policy which allows local authorities to help meet the increasing cost of social care by levying a social care precept of 3%. In addition, the "general" rate of council tax will increase by 1.99%. This will mean residents in a band D property will pay on average £1.35 per week more (please note that this figure will be slightly more if you live in the Wimbledon and/or Putney Commons areas and does not include the portion of council tax that we collect on behalf of the Greater London Authority).
- £6.4 million - amount our Government grant will be cut by in 2017/18
- £13.4 million - savings required in 2017-18
- £1,477.46 - our 2017/18 Band D council tax rate
The increase is essential to meet the increasing cost of adult social care services and the growth in the number of residents who need our support. Social care accounts for over 42% of our budget, and demand is increasing every year. You may be aware of the current national debate about the way it is funded; part of the Government's response has been to allow councils to use an adult social care precept (an additional levy) to help meet rising costs. The precept of 3% is included in your council tax bill.
The Government's policy is to continue reducing grants to local authorities (Kingston's grant has reduced every year since 2010) and to encourage councils to increase council tax in order to help bridge the funding gap. Our grant will drop by £6.4 million in 2017/18 and then reduce to nothing by 2019-20. At the same time we have to meet increases in the costs of providing all services and increased demand for them - not only for adult social care, but also increases in the number of vulnerable children who need our help and homeless families requiring housing. This combination of factors means that despite the social care precept and increase in general council tax, we also have to make savings of £13.4 million in 2017/18.
We're committed to being as efficient as possible. The fact that we have been under financial pressure for several years means we have evolved to become leaner and more flexible. Since 2011 we've made significant staffing cuts because of the withdrawal of government funding. We've shared services with other councils and renegotiated our major contracts to achieve efficiency savings. This process becomes harder each year as we continually have to make significant reductions.
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