Ealing proposes maximum Council Tax increase of nearly 3%

The London Borough of Ealing is proposing an increase to Council Tax by the maximum level allowed, nearly 3%. The final decision will be made at the full Council meeting on 1 March, when the Labour majority is expected to sanction the increase.

The Council’s draft Medium Term Financial Strategy envisages an increase of 2.99% of which includes 1% for the the social care precept, which would raise £1.5million. Ealing spent nearly £84 million on adult social care last year and around 60p in every £1 that it spends goes towards supporting adults and children.

The Council is obliged by law to balance its budget and additional grant funding from central government is predicated on the council raising tax levels by the full amount. Over two thirds of councils are considering implementing the maximum increase.

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The total rise in Council Tax for Ealing residents will be more than 3% because the Mayor of London’s precept is also increasing. The total Council Tax bill from this April will increase by £82 a year for Ealing residents with a property rated in Band D.

Ealing’s Council Tax support scheme, which provides up to 100% discount on bills to the most vulnerable, will remain in place. Around 16,500 working age Ealing residents, and 7,400 pensioners, currently receive help paying their council tax through this scheme.

Like all local authorities, Ealing Council has seen its core government grant slashed since 2009 while seeing demand for high-cost services, such as adult social care and services for children with special educational needs and disabilities, rise. The COVID-19 pandemic, and what the council calls its legacy on jobs and local businesses, has placed extra pressure on already stretched Council finances.

Decade of Government cuts ‘means council tax increase is inevitable’

Cllr Steve Donnelly, Cabinet member an ‘inclusive economy’ said:

“We want to do everything in our power to help our communities, particularly hard-up households, who bore the brunt of the pandemic and are now on the frontline of the cost-of-living crisis. Now, more than ever, we need to make sure that our services can support and protect them as much as possible.

“When government announced their financial settlement for local councils, they made it clear that a 1.99% rise, plus their 1% social care precept, was part of the plan. With this built into government calculations, we are left with some tough choices. Unfortunately, after 10 years of government cuts, inflation at a 30-year high, and with more people needing our help, we must consider raising council tax.”

Councillor Peter Mason, Leader of Ealing Council, said:

“We expect more people than ever to turn to us for help in the coming year and, when they do, we want to be in the best possible shape to support them and keep them safe, which is why we are considering this rise.

“Everyone was affected in their own way by the pandemic and lockdowns, but we know that hard-up people on zero hours contracts and Black and ethnic minority households were hit particularly hard.

“The community rightly expects us to provide support when they need it, but we have been left once again with a short-term, inadequate and unreliable funding settlement. This leaves us vulnerable to shocks and unprecedented events like COVID-19. It also makes it incredibly difficult to plan long-term, especially for high-cost, complicated services such as social care.”

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