Camden set for 4.2 per cent council tax hike

Camden Town Hall

Council tax is set to rise by 4.2 per cent in Camden to help cope with the demands of the pandemic and a growing need for the Town Hall’s services.

The council is increasing its portion of council tax by 2.99 per cent – the maximum it is allowed.

It includes an increase of 1.9 per cent to support council funding, with an extra one per cent increase in the levy for adult social care.

Camden said overall council tax would provide £126m to help fund its services.

It means that residents in Band D homes will pay £1,791.93  a year, including the contribution to the Greater London Authority (GLA), which has responsibility for services like policing and public transport.

This is an increase of £72.46 a year for Band D properties which are estimated to be worth between £68,000 to £88,000.

Residents with access to garden squares pay more, so a Band D bill near Mecklenburgh Square comes in at £1,941.53, and £1,965.04 for people using Fitzroy Square.

Cllr Richard Olszweski, the cabinet member with responsibility for finance, said:  “We really have no choice but to increase council tax by 2.99 per cent.

“We are not cavalier about doing that. We really do appreciate that in many ways people are feeling the pinch and that’s people on a very wide range of income, obviously people in poverty and very low incomes. It’s affecting a massive range of people.”

The increase is in line with rises in other London boroughs this year.

He outlined the increase to the resources and corporate performance scrutiny committee, adding: “We know that people are feeling the pinch.”

He said years of austerity and the pandemic have hit finances, and this year’s government spending assessment did not factor in “the damaging impact” of Covid, which led to an £8m drop in business rates.

The council spent £19m of its own funds on tackling the outbreak.

In January, it announced increases to its council tax reduction scheme for low earners and pensioners, meaning more than 16,000 families will not pay any council tax. This will cost £29m.

It also runs exemptions for foster carers and young people leaving care.

The number of people on  Universal Credit, including people who are working, has soared in Camden during the pandemic.

It is also doubling welfare support for vulnerable residents from £1m to £2m.

The council’s number-crunchers said that austerity meant government funding per person has dropped by 67 per cent from £1,123 in 2010 to an estimated £367 in the next financial year.

A budget deficit of between £35m and £40m is predicted by 2025/26 because of rising prices, austerity and the impact of the pandemic.

The proposed increase has to be approved by cabinet and at full council.

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