Council Tax could go up by 2.99 per cent from April after government cuts have left a hole in funding for vital services.
In papers submitted to Southwark Council’s overview and scrutiny committee, councillor Victoria Mills, cabinet member for finance, performance and Brexit, wrote: “Over the last eight years we have kept council tax low, only raising it to protect vital frontline services.
“After detailed and careful thought, we are proposing that we raise council tax by the maximum permitted 2.99% to close the budget gap.
“This ensures that in the toughest of times we are able to protect services for our most vulnerable residents and the services which our residents value and depend on.”
The increase – equating to 53p more per week for band C properties – would mean an extra £3.2 million collected by the council for its services. Around 60 per cent of residents in the borough live in bands A-C.
The council tax reduction scheme would be unaffected by the change, meaning that around 12,000 working age households will pay no more than 9p extra a week, and 6,900 eligible pensioners will receive 100 per cent relief.
The raise was criticised by the Lib Dem opposition, who believe funding needs can be met without charging extra.
Anood Al-Samerai, leader of Southwark’s Lib Dem opposition, said: ‘The Liberal Democrats were able to show savings of millions last year without raising council tax by cutting Labour waste and their greedy golden goodbyes and by being more creative.
“We will be looking again at an alternative budget which prioritises housing, crime and the environment.”
Council tax had been frozen in the borough from April 2009 until this year, when it was deemed no longer sustainable by finance chiefs at Tooley Street struggling with swingeing government cuts.
Despite the pressures, the borough has had the eighth lowest council tax level in London this financial year, despite government cuts meaning it accounts for a higher proportion of the council’s spend on frontline services.
According to the council, 40 per cent of its funding for next financial year now is expected to come from council tax and business rates.
A decision is expected to be made after the next cabinet meeting on February 5.