Council tax payers in Hounslow will not see their bills rise, despite one councillor warning services are down to their bare bones.

Councillors agreed on Tuesday (February 23) to freeze the council's share of the tax for 2016/17, the same night Ealing Council members voted to do the same.

The Mayor of London's slice of the bill - which pays for services like transport and policing - is set to fall by £19 to £276, meaning a typical household in the borough, with a Band D property, will now pay £1355.77.

Delivering the budget at Tuesday night's borough council meeting, financial chief Councillor Theo Dennison said it would be the 10th consecutive year of "financial restraint", in which the borough's share of council tax had fallen or remained unchanged.

Councillor Theo Dennison, Hounslow's cabinet member for finance and citizen engagement (photo by

"We are socialists that can count and we are the champions of the tax payer," he added.

Hounslow Council looks set to be one of the few local authorities nationally not to take up the Government's offer to increase council tax by up 2% to pay for social care.

The Local Government Association has said 143 out of 152 councils with responsibility for social care are considering or have approved introducing the precept, which it says would raise an extra £372m.

Conservative group leader Peter Thompson questioned Hounslow's decision not to do likewise, pointing out that neighbouring Richmond spent 44% of its budget on social care, compared with just 28% in Hounslow.

Hounslow councillor Peter Thompson
Hounslow Conservative leader Peter Thompson

He claimed the borough's ageing population meant the pressure on social services was only likely to grow in coming years.

"We're concerned that we need to take seriously and spend properly in this vital area or there's a real danger that we might not be meeting our statutory requirements," he said.

'Vulnerable people could be put at risk'

"If we get our sums wrong there's an increased likelihood that vulnerable people could be put at risk."

He said the Conservatives would spend an additional £750,000 on social services in the coming year and an extra £250,000 for children with special educational needs.

He also claimed parking charges had become the new "stealth tax" and said he had "deep misgivings" about the council's decision to bring waste management back in house without putting the service out to tender.

Council leader Steve Curran said his Labour administration had managed the budget "prudently" and he was proud not to have taken up the offer of a social care precept.

Hounslow Council leader Steve Curran

"We have stood firm and haven't accepted the precept offered by George Osborne. This is a ruse; it's smoke and mirrors," he said.

"We promised we would keep council tax low. We can't promise that in one breath and put it up in the next even if we are getting a bung from George Osborne."

Labour councillor Amrit Mann praised what he described as a "good, responsible budget" but said cuts in funding from central government meant the council was having to take hard decisions.

"We've got to a stage where we're past taking the flesh (from council services) because there's no flesh left. We're having to cut into the bone," he said.

'Short-term fix'

Cllr Dennison criticised the Conservatives' plans for an extra £1m of spending as a "short-term fix".

He said £1m represented a tiny fraction of the total budget and the money would not be available next year, making it even harder for the council to balance its books in future.

The LGA says the core Revenue Support Grant funding provided by the government for local services has fallen by £2.5bn for 2016/17.

The Government provided £300m for councils it said had been worst affected, but Hounslow did not get a penny and most of that cash went to Conservative-run local authorities.

Cllr Dennison said the council had to slash its budget for the coming year by £23.7m , though much of those savings had already been agreed last year.

He has said the remainder would come partly from renegotiating its contracts for the management of parks and leisure services, held by Carillion and Fusion respectively, as well as from a review of charges.