Kensington and Chelsea Council look set to approve its first increase in council tax in eight years .
Members of the cabinet voted in favour of a 1.9% increase for the 2017/18 budget at a meeting on Thursday (February 23).
The rise in council tax is being witnessed across west London, with a recent rise given the approval in Hounslow .
Band D tax payers in Chelsea and Kensington currently pay £766.80 in the borough, with the GLA precept of £276 added on top. The proposed increase would amount to £15.20.
It is expected to be approved at a full council meeting on March 8.
The Tory-run council says years of austerity measures has resulted in the increase, and that without a rise there would have been a reduction in front line services.
Overall, the Royal borough must find around £8 million of efficiencies or extra income in 2017/18 in order to compensate for reductions in government grants, which have fallen for the seventh consecutive year.
A 1.9% would see the Royal Borough’s tax remain the fifth lowest in the country.
In a statement the local authority said: “The council will remain one of the small minority in London still paying council tax benefit that covers 100% of council tax bills for those dependent on benefit.
“And it will also remain just about the only council in the country still meeting the ‘moderate’ care needs of vulnerable adults.
“In addition, the cabinet agreed to protect the voluntary sector budget from spending pressures; 2017/18 will, therefore, be the fourth consecutive year that the voluntary sector has been spared cuts.”
Addressing the national adult social care crisis , the council says it is facing similar pressures to those reported around the country but was not yet itself in crisis.
Leader Cllr Nick Paget-Brown said: “I am very proud of the way we have maintained good quality services for our residents.
“But after seven years of austerity, we are now facing stark choices. If we are to continue delivering good services we must find some additional money; after an eight-year freeze, a modest increase in council tax seems a sensible way to start.”
Speaking in December when the council announced plans to increase council tax, the Kensington and Chelsea Labour leader said savings should be spent instead.
“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 service,” he said.
“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).”
In 2017/18 Kensington and Chelsea Council’s budget will have shrunk in real terms by about 22% since 2010/11.
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