Residents in Kingston will get higher council tax bills in 2018/19, after the Greater London Authority (GLA) increased its element of council tax by 5.1 per cent.
Although Kingston Council has frozen its tranche of the bill, the added GLA cost will put an additional £14.21 onto the average yearly Band D tax bill in the borough. The additional money will be used to fund London Metropolitan Police as well as the fire brigade and Transport for London.
As of April, Kingston Council will no longer receive direct funding from the government. Government policy has seen the annual grant reduced every year since 2010, with a view to encouraging councils to increase council tax in order to help bridge the funding gap. The grant dropped by £6.4 million in 2017/18 and has finally been reduced to nothing.
Leader of Kingston Council Kevin Davis said:“For almost a decade, the government grant that helps pay for the council’s services has reduced every year.
“From April, Kingston will no longer receive any direct funding from the Government, which means we will have to independently fund all of the services we provide using income from Council Tax, Business Rates, charges and new ways of working.”
In the 2016/17 year, Kingston Council collected £101.6 million in council tax, of which £16.7 million was from the Greater London Authority.
According to the Council, it has made over £60 million in savings since 2011, but is still facing a difficult financial situation.
Davis said: “Our challenging circumstances mean that we need to work closely with our partners, look at new ways to generate income and deliver more for less. Since 2014 we have been lobbying the Government to give us more control over business rates.
“From April, we will take part in the London Business Rates pooling pilot scheme, which means that in exchange for giving up the last year of our declining government grant, we’ll keep a greater share of Business Rates and 100% of any growth.”
Money not being spent on potholes has been the main concern that many residents have taken to Twitter about, using #KingstonPothole as a hashtag to warn other drivers and cyclists.