Borough-wide consultation will start soon
Merton Council is to consult with residents over the possibility of increasing council tax by up to 2% to help it reduce the estimated £20 million worth of cuts it says it needs to make.
The council, which has frozen council tax since 2010, is launching a borough-wide consultation on Friday (September 9) to ask if residents would be willing to pay extra council tax – if so, how much extra?
Earlier this year, the Labour-led council controversially decided not to use a 2% precept offered by the Government which would allow the council to raise £1.7m to spend on adult social care. The council's Overview and Scrutiny Commission, chaired by Merton Park Independent Resident Councillor Peter Southgate, had proposed to increase council tax by 2% to protect adult social care.
In a statement, the council now says it is consulting with residents for the following reasons:
The statement continues: “Although we would still need to make cuts, increasing your council tax by 2% could reduce the estimated £20million of cuts to around £18million, for example. We are also looking at other ways to reduce the gap – for instance, we have also raised charges for some services where we can, and will continue to use reserves where available to slow down some of the impact of the cuts.
“We want to know what residents think. Would residents be willing to pay extra council tax in 2017/2018 and 2018/2019? If so, how much extra? Would people prefer any additional council tax to help reduce the cuts to just one council service (adult social care) or all areas?”
Cabinet member for finance, Councillor Mark Allison said: “Residents know we want to keep council tax low, and because we have taken a business-like approach we are one of only a few councils in the country to have frozen it every year. In Merton we have tightened our belts and reduced our spending in all service areas to reflect the severe cuts in government funding councils like ours have experienced. However, we need to save a further £20m in the next four years, with more cuts to come. So, as it is five years since we agreed our priorities, we want to find out residents’ views on these difficult decisions and how we keep Merton a great place for our families to live in.”
From Friday (September 9) you can fill out the consultation online at www.merton.gov.uk/consultation or fill out a paper version in the autumn edition of My Merton magazine. From Friday, view the e-edition at www.merton.gov.uk/mymerton. The deadline for responses is Friday November 4.
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September 6, 2016