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Changes to council tax proposed

52Tower Hamlets council’s Cabinet has set out plans for an increase in council tax to help balance the council’s budget.
An increase of 3.99 per cent is proposed from April 2016. This will be made up of a 1.99 per cent increase on the current council tax charge, plus 2 per cent specifically to help fund social care which the Chancellor George Osborne, has announced councils can now do and expects them to do. This means a resident paying full council tax in a band D property will see a rise of £16.33 per year, the equivalent of 31p per week in their bills.
Tower Hamlets Council has forecast that cuts to its grant, increases due to inflation and demographic pressures will result in a budget shortfall of around £59m over the next four years.
In their discussions tonight, the Mayor and Cabinet proposed to set a budget of £358.774m for 2016/17 and agree Council Tax (Band D) at £920.85. This would help address the significant reductions in local government funding and also invest in priorities for the borough, including tacking street cleanliness and anti-social behaviour, providing a range of initiatives to support vulnerable people, those looking for work and young people going into further and higher education. It would also enable the council to meet pressures arising from the increased cost of waste disposal and on adult social care services.
The Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said: “Ongoing cuts to local government funding means that we need to make tough choices.
“We need to address the pressures we face, invest in improving key services and ensure that we are working as efficiently as possible.
“Revenue from Council Tax will help bridge the gap that we face in funding important local services as well as enabling us to address several long term issues for the council that are still outstanding.
“We remain committed to providing ongoing financial support to all Council Tax payers on a low income. This, alongside our wider work to raise awareness about welfare reform, will help protect the most vulnerable in Tower Hamlets.
“There are hard choices ahead, but we must act efficiently and also try to support those in need.”
Tower Hamlets has a local benefits service to assist all council tax payers on a low income to pay their council tax. This will continue in 2016.
The proposals will now be examined by the council and debated by members.
Tower Hamlets Council must agree the council tax rate and notify the Greater London Authority (GLA) of its council tax base by January 31, 2016.