Southwark council tax payers could see their bills rise by almost six per cent from April.
The council is planning to raise basic council tax by 2.99 per cent this year – the maximum amount they can increase it by without triggering a local referendum.
In addition to this, the local authority is also proposing a three per cent adult social care precept to tackle social care pressures.
If given the go ahead, it will mark the third year in a row council tax has been raised – following a seven-year freeze prior to this.
Councillor Fiona Colley, Southwark’s cabinet member for finance, modernisation and performance, said the tax rise would help generate funds for adult social care, children services and education support services in particular.
“As we go into this year we are facing £12.2million of cuts to funding from the government and enormous spending pressures, particularly in adult social care, children services and education support services,” she told the News.
“We have an ageing population that needs looking after, people are living for longer with long-term health conditions, and there are children who need support with special education needs so as well as that £12million now, the council is facing about £40million in pressures in demand for services.
“We are faced with the choice of having to make cuts to services and putting up council tax; we do propose to put it up by 2.99 per cent which will raise £2.95million.
“It’s always hard – no one wants to see their council tax bill going up – but we really felt these services were so important that we did need to make that difficult choice this year and we will still be the eighth lowest in London.”
Cllr Colley said the increase would equate to about £1 a week for most people’s bills – but that some rents for council tenants should go down by about £1 a week.
Leader of Southwark Liberal Democrats council group, councillor Anood Al-Samerai, argued the council had taken the “lazy option of ramping up council tax to the max”.
“The council could choose to make reasonable savings in administrative costs and refuse to make expensive and unnecessary gestures,” she said. “We have identified lots of areas where costs can be shaved off.
“Liberal Democrat councillors will be proposing an alternative budget where we show that the council has other choices and does not have to put up council tax for residents who are already struggling.”
Residents can apply for relief on their council tax bill in certain circumstances, such as if you are a foster carer or a pensioner on a low income, and children leaving care in Southwark are now exempt from paying.