The first increase in council tax for eight years was amongst the budget proposals debated by Town Hall denizens in Kensington and Chelsea.

The council is considering an increase of just under 2%, which would bring an extra £1.5million into its coffers in 2017/18, the local authority has claimed.

The discussion was held on Thursday (November 24) as the Royal borough anticipates its government grant will fall during the next financial year for the seventh consecutive year.

The opposition Labour group said any further cuts to services should be avoided, but urged the Tory-run administration to dip into savings instead of increasing taxes.

Band D tax payers currently pay £766.80 in the borough, with the GLA precept of £276 added on top. The proposed increase would amount to around £15.25.

Conservative Leader for Kensington and Chelsea Council Cllr Nick Paget-Brown outside Kensington Town Hall

According to the council, its budget has shrunk in real terms by 20% between 2010/11 and 2016/17.

At the cabinet meeting, councillors warned this decline is expected to continue beyond 2017/18 for at least a further two years, albeit at a lower rate of about 1.8% per annum.

Council tax would remain among the lowest in the country, said Kensington and Chelsea council, which added it would otherwise have to look at recouping the £1.5million through reductions in services.

If the increase were to be applied, it could help the Royal borough to remain just about the only council in the country still meeting the “moderate” care needs of vulnerable adults and one of the small minority in London still paying council tax benefit that covers 100% of council tax bills, the local authority said.

Kensington and Chelsea accused of 'acting like a bank', despite freezing council tax

“The council’s austerity survival strategy has so far been highly effective,” said council leader Nick Paget-Brown.

“By sharing services with our neighbours, by making traditional efficiencies and by driving up income from council-owned properties, our services have remained remarkably intact.

“But the potential of that strategy for yielding further income and savings is shrinking.

"If we are to continue delivering really good services, we must start to find additional money and the council tax is a sensible option.

“I trust that when they reflect on our twice weekly refuse collections, our superb exam results, our lovely parks, our high levels of street maintenance and much else besides, our residents will mostly conclude that they get a pretty good deal for their council tax, even if it is does increase by nearly 2%”

'Remember the mountains of reserves that this extremely wealthy council has hoarded for decades'

Cllr Robert Atkinson, leader of the Kensington and Chelsea Labour group, said: “While any increase in council tax will cause hardship for some council tax payers I regret that further reductions in council services will damage many more vulnerable groups - such as vulnerable elderly people requiring care in their homes or children dependent on breakfast clubs or youth services.

“But let us always remember the mountains of reserves that this extremely wealthy council has hoarded for decades.

“I will want to see the council underspends spent and the council’s reserves rundown before we can support an increase in council tax to be paid by the ‘Just About Managing’ who exist in large numbers even in RBKC (Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea).

“This is simply the logical consequence of the conservative government’s disdain for vital services and contempt for local government.”

Residents and local businesses are invited to have their say before they are voted on by the full council on March 8 2017.

Comments can be made by emailing budgetproposals@rbkc.gov.uk or writing to: The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Town Clerk’s Office, Town Hall, Hornton Street, London W8 7NX.

Comments must be received no later than 12pm on February 1.

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