|Council Tax Frozen for Hounslow Borough|
Budget announces that rate will be held at last year's level
Council tax will stay the same for residents of Hounslow following the announcement of the Council’s budget for 2012/13.
Hounslow Council said this was the sixth year in succession that council tax had been frozen and described it as a record for an outer London borough. In real terms this was a decrease of an average of £280 per household over the six years, the council said.
A Conservative amendment to the budget, which would have reduced council tax by 2.2 per cent (50p per week for a band D household) through using the Council’s reserves was defeated.
The leader of the conservative group on the Council, Cllr Mark Bowen said that people in the borough were “ feeling the pinch” more than ever and deserved a reduction in their Council tax from the £2.2m VAT refund given to the Council by the HMRC.
While his group supported some measures in the budget they were concerned at the lack of progress in Joint Services and Asset Rationalisation.
Over £2 million will also be invested in the council’s pledges and priorities, crime and safety, housing and jobs, improving school standards, clean streets and cutting waste, according to a statement from Hounslow Borough Council.
The deputy leader of the Council, Ruth Cadbury said there had been £62 million cut from the budget over four years and there was “great uncertainty” over future levels of Government funding. Despite that, they were setting a budget that achieved the required savings and allowed for growth.
The Leader of the Council, Cllr Jagdish Sharma said in his budget speech that there were many things to look forward to; “We can look forward to a year of investment and progress - a year when our staff will earn the London Living Wage as a minimum (they already do), when we’ll see the Hounslow town centre masterplan start to become a reality, when we will open our new Sandbanks resource centre with new residential and day places for older people, and we will build further on the good progress we have made on our pledges.”
Councillor Mark Bowen, Leader of the Conservative Group, said: “The Council has received £2.2 million from the HMRC following a successful claim (started when the Conservatives were in administration) for VAT reimbursement. The Labour Group believes that this should be added to the Council’s General Reserves. Conservatives disagree and we believe that residents will disagree also. This VAT Refund belongs to our Residents and it is their money.
People in this Borough are feeling the pinch more than ever and deserved a reduction. I regret that the Labour Group disagreed and that they did not even understand what our proposal was about. The main difference was in what should be done with the VAT reimbursement.
Beyond our amendment, whilst we supported a number of things in the budget, we are concerned at the lack of progress in the areas of Joint Services and Asset Rationalisation for these are the areas where the Council must to better in the future if it is to balance budgets and improve services.”
March 6, 2012