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HomeNewsHillingdon residents facing council tax increase after budget proposal approved in principal

Hillingdon residents facing council tax increase after budget proposal approved in principal

Hillingdon residents will see their council tax bills go up by an average of £66 as the council looks to find an extra £27.5million to cover expected rises in costs and demand for services. The council approved in principle a budget proposal in a brisk cabinet meeting on Thursday evening (December 14). In the half an hour meeting members discussed how to balance the books from the 2024/25 to the 2028/29 financial years.

Read out by council leader Ian Edwards in place of Cllr Martin Goddard, who was too ill to attend, he said: “This has not been an easy budget to put together. We remain in a challenging economic environment with inflation at a higher rate than predicted by the Bank of England a year ago.”

Government funding is not keeping up with inflation, he added, so raising council tax was needed to help balance the budget. A 2.99 per cent increase to council tax was proposed along with a 2 per cent precept to fund residents’ adult social care, meaning a combined 4.99 per cent rise for households – the maximum amount a council can raise the tax by without a referendum.

The council says this equates to £1.27 a week for a Band D property, or across the year this would be £66.04, with Cllr Edwards quick to remind residents that they pay some of the lowest levels of council tax in outer London.

Inflation will account for an extra £17m that the council must conjure up while increased service demand will mean finding £10.5m more. Cllr Edwards said: “We continue to see increased demand for our services particularly in areas of social care, housing and homelessness.”

Some of these increased costs are broken down into £3.2m more for adult social care, £2.4m for homelessness prevention, £1.9m for special educational needs transport and £1.7m for waste. Some of the money the council is looking to recoup in order to keep their budget balanced will be through ‘efficiencies’ with a further £33.4 million earmarked for the period between 2024/25 and 2028/29, including £15.8 million in 2024/25.

While it doesn’t explain in detail what will be cut, among the earmarked areas the report lists are ‘workforce’ and ‘service tranformation’. As part of a wider investment strategy, the council has proposed using funds for its capital programme to spend £217.8 million on services, facilities, schools and infrastructure over the next five years.

This includes £16.7m to complete the construction of the new West Drayton Leisure Centre in 2025/26, and £23.3m to develop the new Hillingdon Water Sports facility, replacing facilities dispersed by the HS2 project.

A further £441.8m has been allocated to increase and improve the council’s housing stock. The council currently has a £2,000 surplus in its budget from the current financiual year, measured against where it had budgeted to be. This is despite an in-year overspend of £12.8m which has been driven by ‘high needs placement demand’ and ‘cost pressures’.