Residents of Kingston have responded to the council’s plan to increase council tax amid the rising cost of living.
Kingston Council announced that council tax is rising by 1.99 per cent from April 1 which will mean the Royal Borough will have the highest levy within the capital for the average Band D property.
Leader of Kingston Council, Councillor Andreas Kirsch told the Kingston Courier: “Kingston is heavily dependent on council tax and business rates [with] 89.5 per cent of our income coming from these two.
“Kingston only gets £4,000 in Revenue Support Grant (RSG), other boroughs get many millions (Wandsworth 23 million, Westminster 30 million).”
Some residents said that the main problem was a lack of government funding. Kathryn Shrimpton said: “I see this primarily as a failure of central government to fund public services fairly.”
However, Barry Featherstone sees it as a failure of the council.
“It’s at a totally unjustifiably, outrageous level while services continue to fail and all the council can talk about is the next phase of their Lego Property Developer game. They are not fit for purpose,” said Featherstone.
For some residents the prospect of higher council tax bills at a time when they are already under financial pressure is frightening.
Kelli Ann said: “Considering the gas and electric is rocketing, it is financially crippling and the kids birthdays and Christmas will be cancelled as our bills have gone up by £200+ each month. Was already just getting by as it was.”
David Jones from Kingston said: “Raising council tax by the absolute maximum is probably the meanest and least compassionate thing the council could do at a time like this.”
There are a number of residents who are unhappy with council tax rising because they do not see where the money goes.
“To be honest, I often wonder what my £190 a month is buying me apart from refuse collection. So don’t think I’m happy with having to pay any more,” said local resident Rob Brooks.
Kingston Council said it would spend over £84 million of its budget on supporting people which equates to 57 per cent of the total budget the council has for 2022-23.
Other views from local residents opposing the rise of council tax look at it from the perspective that the cost of living is reaching an unattainable limit.
Jessica Price said: “I think it’s absolutely disgusting and so many people I know have had to move out the area because of the expense of living here.”
Mariana Soares said: “With council tax increasing, bills becoming more expensive, plus rent, etc. how can young single people afford living in this city by themselves? Very frustrating, especially the amount of tax/NI I pay every month.”
Councillor Kirsch said: “It is always a difficult decision to raise council tax, but to help us meet the financial pressures, we have no choice but to ask residents to pay a bit more for the services we deliver to everyone.”