A full meeting of Barnet Council last night (1 March 2016) confirmed there will be no increase in Council Tax bills for the borough’s residents for the sixth year in a row.
This means that, following a one per cent reduction in 2014/15 and a freeze in every other year since 2010/11, there has been a real term cut of 20 per cent in Council Tax bills since 2010/11.
This year the Government has given councils flexibility to increase their Council Tax by up to two per cent above the existing two per cent threshold – after which a local referendum is called – on the condition this ‘social care precept’ is spent exclusively on adult social care including care for the elderly.
Following consultation the council last night voted to adopt a 1.7 precept to help manage the demand on services from an increasing ageing population. This money will be spent exclusively on helping to care for the borough’s elderly residents. However there will be no overall increase in Council Tax bills because the council is not increasing the proportion of Council Tax that funds general services coupled with a reduction in the Greater London Authority element of bills.
Barnet Council faces a savings gap of £81 million between 2016 and 2020, including this year’s savings of £20 million. This is in addition to budget savings of £75 million that have already been achieved since 2010.
Although the council is reducing its day to day spending to achieve these savings it is also investing in the future infrastructure of the borough. Council voted in favour of £195m of investment in 2016/17 as part of a total capital investment programme of £565m to the end of the decade, in essential infrastructure such as housing, transport, school places, leisure centres and community hubs.
Councillor Richard Cornelius, Leader of Barnet Council, said: “I am delighted that there will be no increase in Council Tax bills next year – the sixth year in a row.
“We have been working hard to reduce our day to day spending and transform the way we deliver our services to make sure we are living within our means.
“I am proud of the successes we have achieved so far, helping deliver more than 5,300 new homes of which over 2,000 are affordable, investing £116 million in extra school places and helping more than 800 people into work.
“Although we need to reduce the costs of running the council, we are continuing to invest in the borough to make sure it remains a great place to live and work.”