New Council Tax levels announced

Shock for Ealing borough residents but Hounslow borough opts for lower increase

Residents of Ealing Borough are to be hit by a 26% increase in Council Tax. Having been one of the cheaper authorities in London it has now leapt above the London average with a Band D household now paying £1114 a year. The Council is blaming changes in the way central government provides funding, the large increase from the Greater London Authority and the need to increase reserves. The increase comes at a time when the Council has recently been assessed as weak by the Audit Commission.

Leader of Ealing Council, Councillor John Cudmore, said: "Our settlement finances social services at an adequate and sustainable level. We are honouring our commitment to fund education fully by giving money directly to schools. We will address overspends and direct money to front-line services. The signs show we are likely to have a lower council tax than many of our neighbouring boroughs."

He pledged that funds would be direct at front-line services particularly social services and education. More money would also be available for environmental services such as road sweeping, abandoned cars and dumped rubbish.

If you live in Hounslow borough you have faired slightly better with a total increase of 15.4% although the new Band D level of £1180 is still above Ealing's rate.

Council Leader John Chatt said that this was one of the toughest budgets he had been involved with. He added that the budget "takes into account the recommendations of the cross-party Scrutiny Committee who looked in detail at the cuts and savings proposals facing the Council. No one welcomes a rise in Council Tax but it is clear from our consultation with residents that local people value the services we deliver and want to avoid cuts to services that could affect the quality of life in the borough.�

A telephone poll of a representative sample of 500 residents was almost equally split between the two budget options. The survey found that 43% preferred an increase of 12.2% which involved reductions and savings of £4.1m including cuts to parks maintenance, while 42% of residents said that they would be willing to see a 18.5% increase if this protected services. Responses by e-mail and postcard favoured the lower increase.

John Chatt in thanking those that participated said, "This poll tells me that our residents do value the services the Council provides and are willing to pay more to ensure that they are not reduced. "

Tax Bands for 2003/4

Band A
Band B
Band C
Band D
Band E
Band F
Band G
Band H

The increase in both boroughs was boosted by a 29.1% rise in the amount of tax levied by the Greater London Assembly which is collected through Council Tax Bills.

March 5, 2003