Croydon’s Council Tax will increase by almost 4 per cent from April.
That was the announcement sneaked out of the Town Hall by Tony Newman and his numpties last night, in what has become a now near-annual ritual as the Labour-run council uses the occasion to bemoan the austerity of successive Tory governments.
3.99 per cent is the maximum that local authorities are allowed to increase Council Tax – 2 per cent towards adult social care, as allowed by the Chancellor of the day, and 1.99 per cent towards the general pot. The Mayor of London’s precept is expected to lump on some more to Croydon residents’ bills, as Sadiq Khan seeks additional funding, particularly for the Metropolitan Police.
This will be the fifth successive year under the Newman-run Town Hall that Croydon’s Council Tax has been increased by 3.99 per cent.
But even this increase may not avoid the council having to make cuts to some services when the full details of the budget are revealed in the coming days.
Despite such background, council directors’ hefty salaries, such as chief executive Jo Negrini’s £220,000 per year (up from £180,000 in 2017), and councillor allowances have managed to keep increasing.
“Croydon, like councils across the UK, is struggling to balance a rising demand for services with a decade of severe cuts which has reduced our Government grant by 70 per cent,” according to Simon Hall, Newman’s finance flunky, last night.
“In particular, demand for children’s and adult social care has reached unprecedented levels without the funds to pay for it.
“Croydon also has some exceptional costs that impact its budget – this year alone the council must make up a £9million shortfall in funding to look after unaccompanied asylum-seeking children because the Government’s National Transfer Scheme simply isn’t working.
“But despite these huge financial challenges we are proud to be able to deliver a balanced budget, increase council reserves and continue to look after for our elderly and most vulnerable residents while protecting value for money local services from cuts.”
Croydon Council was recently criticised by CIPFA, the public accountancy body, for having stoked up record levels of debt – the third largest of all local authorities in the country – while running down its reserves to dangerously low levels.
The council will publish a report on its proposed budget for 2020-2021 today with the papers for the scrutiny committee on February 10. The budget will go to the council’s cabinet for approval on February 24 and then to full council for ratification on March 3.
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