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Council tax increased to help meet rising cost of adult social care in Kingston

Kingston Council has voted to support Kingston’s most vulnerable residents by raising council tax by 1.99% and levying a social care precept of 3%, which means that people living in most Band D properties will pay an extra £1.35 a week.

Despite making over £60 million of savings since 2011, the council still faces a challenging financial situation. Adult social care is becoming increasingly expensive, with a growing number of vulnerable and elderly residents who require care and the cost of providing these services is rising sharply.

Since 2010, the Government grant that helps pay for some of the council's services has dropped year on year and will reduce to nothing by 2019, which means Kingston will have to fund all of the services it provides to residents using income from council tax and business rates. This new independent status will offer greater flexibility for the borough but will heighten the priority to build new homes that pay council tax and attract new businesses that pay business rates.

Leader of the Council, Cllr Kevin Davis said:

"Kingston has always been a great place to live, work and visit, but to keep it that way, we need to respond to the huge changes that are taking place across the country.

“The Government’s policy is to continue reducing the grants it pays to all local authorities - ours has reduced every year since 2010 - and to encourage councils to increase local taxes in order to help bridge the funding gap. Our grant will drop by £6.4 million this year and despite intense lobbying, it will then reduce to nothing by 2019.”

Cllr David Glasspool, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Treasury at Kingston Council, added:

“Increasing council tax is a difficult choice for us to take, but many residents will be aware of the deepening national crisis in social care. Adult social care is by far our biggest expense, accounting for over 42% of our total budget - a figure that rises above 70% when you add the cost of supporting other vulnerable groups like homeless families, looked after children and people with special educational needs and disabilities. We are finding it increasingly difficult to respond to the rising demand for care, which is caused in part by our borough’s sharply rising population of older adults.”

“We hope residents will understand the special circumstances that exist when it comes to supporting Kingston’s most vulnerable residents. But beyond social care, we still face other cost pressures, which mean savings of £13.4 million must be found in the next financial year - one of the highest savings targets the council has ever set.”

Leader of the Council, Cllr Kevin Davis concluded:

“Forever increasing taxes is not a sustainable option, so we now need to find a new way to deliver our services, working more collaboratively with our residents and partners. But we also need to look at new ways to generate income - increasing the number of council tax payers by building new homes and attracting new businesses who will pay business rates.

“Changing the way we deliver services and expanding our taxpayer base will both take time. The only way we can cover the costs of vital services for the next year is to raise council tax and levy the adult social care precept.”

Frequently asked questions about council tax in 2017-18 can be found at www.kingston.gov.uk/CTFAQs.

A booklet explaining the council’s council tax rise will be sent to all homes in the borough next week.

Notes to editors

Last year (2016/17), Kingston Council collected £101.6 million in council tax, of which £16.7m was on behalf of the Greater London Authority to fund the police, fire service and Transport for London.

Proposed council spending by service area for 2017/18:

  • 42.8% for health and adult social care (£56.2 million)
  • 25.8% for learning and children's services (£33.9 million)
  • 30.2% for environment and place based services (£39.7 million)
  • 1.2% for support and other corporate services (£1.6 million)
  • 0.1% for neighbourhoods (£0.1 million)

Place services include planning and transportation, regeneration, environmental control, parks and green space, traffic management, parking and street scene services.