Questions and answers
How much council tax will I pay in 2019-20?
Band D - includes properties valued from £68,001 to £88,000 at 1991 values. The council tax for other bands is calculated as a proportion of Band D. More information on the council website.
|Council tax band||Council tax RBK||Council Tax GLA||Council tax most of borough||WPCC area Precept||
Council tax WPCC area
*The WPCC area is equivalent to 1567 Band D properties. The figures for Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators precept are provisional, pending confirmation of the levy from that body and the individual figures in the table may therefore change.
How is my council tax broken down and what has changed this year?
Your council tax is made up of two elements:
Kingston Council expenditure – e.g. social care, waste collection, libraries
Greater London Authority (GLA) expenditure – e.g. Metropolitan Police, Transport for London and the Fire Brigade.
In line with national government policy, we have taken the decision to raise council tax by 2.99% and support Kingston’s vulnerable and ageing population by levying a social care precept of 2%*. We also collect council tax on behalf of the GLA, which has set a rise of 8.9%, 50p a week. You can find out more about the GLA and its plans for the forthcoming year at www.kingston.gov.uk/GLA.
*The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has made an offer to local authorities like us which have functions under Part 1 of the Care Act 2014. The offer is the option to charge an additional “precept” on its Council Tax from the financial year beginning in 2016 without holding a referendum, to assist the authority in meeting expenditure on adult social care. Subject to the annual approval of the House of Commons, the Secretary of State intends to offer the option of charging this “precept” at an appropriate level in each financial year up to and including 2019-20.
Why are you putting up my council tax?
The decision to raise council tax is always difficult and isn't taken lightly, but given the limited ways of raising funds and the need to budget in a responsible and achievable way, we have little choice but to ask residents to pay a bit more for the services we deliver to everyone, especially our most vulnerable residents.
We have a growing population in Kingston, which has increased by 20,000 since 2011 and is now at 179,600. There continue to be pressures on social care* and special educational needs and disability services as a result of growing numbers of children in need and our ageing local population. The council tax increase is essential to meet those costs.
Council tax alone does not fund all our services. Our Government grant has gone down every year since 2010 and despite intense lobbying, we no longer receive any general funding. We now independently fund our services using income from council tax, business rates and income we generate.
I hardly use any council services - why do I pay the same as those who do?
Council tax is not a direct bill for services; you’re paying for the cost of maintaining society’s essential services and ensuring that we can support the most vulnerable among us. In total, over 60% of our budget is spent on helping vulnerable people, including the elderly and children. Our single biggest expense is adult social care, which accounts for over 40% of our budget. We are a community - collectively caring for all our residents.
Does this mean you are going to increase council tax next year and in the future?
No decision has been made about council tax increases for next year. However, there is still a gap to close in future years.
Why is our council tax one of the highest in London?
The Government funding we receive in Kingston has historically always been low compared to most other London boroughs because Kingston is seen by the Government as an area of low need. While there are some affluent areas, there are also many areas that are in real need. Now we no longer receive any general funding, but our overall budget hasn’t changed. This means we need to raise more money through council tax.
Why doesn‘t the council just use its reserves instead of making cuts?
The Government has highlighted some local authorities as having significant financial reserves, but we’re not one of them; our reserves are among the lowest in London. Continually dipping into them to help cope with the pressures we’re facing would not be a sustainable way to deliver a balanced budget. Reserves, like your savings, can only be spent once, so eating into them simply puts off the tough choices for the next year, when the financial situation is likely to be even worse. Reserves need to be kept aside to cover for unforeseen events and specific projects rather than business-as-usual.
Why don’t you put up business rates instead?
We are participating in what’s called a pooling pilot, which means working with other boroughs. This gives us greater flexibility and hopefully greater financial reward to reinvest in services. Business rates are set on a national basis by the Government. An increase in business rates would not tackle our budget challenge on its own, because as things stand, a majority share of business rates receipts from Kingston borough is taken by the Government.