Hounslow Council Freezes Council Tax This Year

But new budget involves thirteen million pounds worth of cuts

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Hounslow Council has passed its Budget for the coming year which holds council tax at its current level but involves making a £13.7m worth of cutbacks for 2015/16.

This is the ninth year that the Council Tax charge has not increased.

The budget report which sets out the recommendations required to set the council's overall budget, council tax and treasury management strategy for 2015/16 was debated at a full borough council meeting (Tuesday, Feb 24). LBH needs to make £59m worth of savings over the next four years.

The Council says that holding annual tax at its current rate means a Band D charge is the nineteenth lowest in London.

A band D council tax charge is £1,079.77 total charge but the total charge is £1,374.77 when GLA and London taxes are included.

Properties undergoing structural alteration will see the current discount for council tax removed, and unoccupied properties would have to pay full council tax.

One area of increased charges is that of cpz permits where an increase of 12.5% is proposed for CPZ zone permits across the borough.

Collection and disposal cost from private schools, charities residential care homes, hospitals and schools will increase by up to 7% in some cases.

Apart from job cuts, the cutbacks affect everything from provision of library books, to the closure of daycare centre Two Bridges, the deployment of Hounslow Homes wardens into Borough Enforcement Teams covering Licensing, Food Hygiene, Dog Control, Environmental controls and Anti-Social behaviour. Merging CCTV centres with the Police is another area considered to save money.

The budget report provides an update on the capital spending strategy of the Council which needs to make £59m of savings over the four years from 2015/16 to 2018/19.

The council would still have £625m to spend next year on day-to-day services under the budget. It also needs an estimated £220m between now and 2017/18 for capital projects including creating extra school places and building new homes.

"This budget is set against the continuing challenging financial environment for the public sector. The implications of the Government's public expenditure plans and the local
authority finance settlement are severe for Hounslow's budget and the provision of services," say LBH.

However, its chief financial officer warned, that "severe financial challenges face the council from 2015 onwards and the 2015/16 budget will be complex to balance."

Following Hounslow council’s adoption of the new budget involving £13m worth of cuts, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate, Ruth Cadbury, blamed the coalition government for the £2.6m cuts to councils round the country.

“The austerity budget strategy of this Government has meant that Local Government services are becoming unviable and cuts are hitting the poorest hardest - those already hit by the bedroom tax, by Housing Benefit cuts, by petty and punitive DWP sanctions, by the cuts in Tax Credits, by cuts in health and care services.”

February 25, 2015