Lewisham Council has decided to raise council tax for the second time in seven years in response to a decrease in government funding.
The increase is equivalent to 45p a week more for a Band D property. This further drop in government funding means that the Council will have been forced to make savings totalling £138m since 2010. You can see the full impact of this year’s budget here.
Lewisham’s Mayor, Sir Steve Bullock has promised that he will prioritise spending in the coming year on areas where the Council “makes a real difference to the most pressing challenges we face.”
This will mean continuing to find innovative ways to tackle the borough’s housing challenges and expanding primary school places to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population and ensuring more low-paid workers get the London Living wage.
The Mayor said: “We are increasing council tax for only the second time in seven years because it is the only sensible response to continued Government cuts to our funding.
“No one wants to pay more tax, but people also want local services. While the increase in council tax won’t prevent the need to make yet more savings from our budget, what it will do is help us plan our changes so that they impact less severely on the services that the community needs and values.”
Government funding will fall again this year from £160m to £147m. The Government arrived at this figure assuming that the Council would impose an ‘optional’ 2% levy on top of your bill to make up some of that funding cut to help pay for social care services and that it would raise its own portion of council tax by up to 2%. A drop in the payment towards the GLA, as a result of ending payments towards the Olympic project, means an overall rise in bills of 1.72%.
“We will continue to prioritise spending to make a real difference to the most pressing challenges that we face – building more homes for those who need them most, creating enough school places for all our children and ensuring more low-paid workers get the London Living wage,” the Mayor said.
“Lewisham is changing and we need to make sure that it changes in ways that are inclusive and make things better for the existing community.”