Unprecedented new government settlement for Kingston
Planned Council Tax increase to be reversed, following a new government grant settlement offering a better deal for Kingston.
Following the announcement in December of the adverse grant settlement for Kingston, strong lobbying from the Council, its Leader and Members of Parliament has led to a revised deal for Kingston and our announcement of a reversal of the planned Council Tax increase.
The new settlement, revealed on Monday by Communities Secretary Greg Clark, will provide a transitional grant in 2016/17 and 2017/18 to Kingston, one of the worst affected Councils from the Government’s new grant distribution methodology.
As a consequence of this transition grant of £1.305m in 2016/17 and £1.288min 2017/18, Kingston Council is reversing its proposal to raise Council Tax by 1.99 per cent. This will reduce the originally proposed Band D Council Tax bill by £27.44 in 2016/17.
The Council will still proceed with implementing the Government’s 2 per cent ‘Social Care precept’, to assist in funding older and vulnerable people's care. With planned reductions in the GLA charge to Kingston residents the overall Band D tax increase will be £8.58 in 2016/17 or 0.51 per cent.
In a speech to the House of Commons, Kingston was highlighted by the Communities Secretary as one of the councils who have argued strongly for this transitional fund.
Mr Clark also confirmed there would be a review of the needs assessment formula for local government, a significant policy development for Kingston with nearly 30 per cent of its population over 50 and suffering from a funding formula which is significantly out of date.
As Kingston seeks to rely less on government grants, the Council will continue to lobby on behalf of residents to bring forward a pilot to retain business rates, something the Council has been lobbying for since Autumn 2014.
Councillor Kevin Davis, the Leader of the Council at the Royal Borough of Kingston said:
“This is a significant victory for the borough. We have made our case loudly and clearly to central Government and they have listened and acted. This is the first time anyone can remember that the local Government settlement has been changed. This unprecedented announcement is the result of a coordinated approach between the Royal Borough of Kingston, local MPs and other outer London councils talking to government with a united voice.
“We have been very clear with residents that the only reason we were increasing Council Tax above the Government’s Social Care levy was because of the grant settlement. Now Government has corrected this, it is only right that we pass on the benefits of our lobbying to our residents.
“There are still financial challenges for Kingston in the years ahead with a significant revenue gap in the estimates for 2018/19 and beyond. We still believe we can best weather those years by being independent from Government grant. The Government announced last Autumn that it was adopting nationally, from 2020, the Business Rates devolution we had proposed and we are therefore pushing hard for government to bring forward a business rates pilot.
“As if our success on grant changes were not enough, we are also pleased that Government has recognised the long-term ill effects of the years since Kingston was labelled a ‘leafy borough’ and our grant methodology was used to disadvantage us. This Government has recognised the unfairness of this and has called for a review of the needs assessment that will finally recognise the changing nature of Kingston and our ageing population.”