Councils in the capital have delivered an average Council Tax rise of 1.2 percent, less than half the national figure, according to figures released today by London Councils.
The body, which represents all Councils in the capital, says London’s local authorities have delivered over £376 million of efficiency savings, exceeding the target set for them by central government by almost £100 million.
London Councils Chairman Councillor Merrick Cockell said “sound financial planning has meant that at a time when all of our residents are feeling the pinch we can keep council tax rises as low as possible. Unlike previous recessions the brunt of this recession will be felt in the capital – we will do everything in our power to reduce its impact on our residents.”
Separate figures released by the Local Government Association suggest 40% of London councils have made staffing cuts to help keep Council Tax rises down.
Chairman of the Local Government Association, Cllr Margaret Eaton, said: “There is a fine balance for councils between helping to stimulate the economy and keeping council tax down for hard pressed taxpayers. There are no simple answers or quick fix solutions, but councils are working flat out to get the balance right so that the country’s economy doesn’t suffer in the long term and taxpayers don’t suffer in the short term.”
Responding to London Councils’ figures, local Government Minister John Healey said “it is right that councils do all they can to help people through these tough economic times – including keeping council tax down.”
Taxpayer groups say any rise is “unacceptable” in light of the hardships many families are facing. Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive at the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “While it is laudable to make efficiency savings, this does not go far enough. London councils must work harder to provide value for money for taxpayers and any rise in council tax at a time when people are struggling to make ends meet in a recession is unacceptable.”
Last week a report said councils could make greater savings and give council tax payers better value by improving their procurement processes.