Report says massive Council tax hike needed

Ealing Council's finance man suggests 30% rise could be required

Fears of another huge rise in tax in Ealing Borough loomed as the Ealing Gazette leaked details of report by or on behalf of the council's corporate finance director Stephen Lawes.

The rise in tax may be necessary because of unforeseen overspending amounting to £13.4 million in areas such as social services and housing. Tree root subsidence claims cost £1.4 million more than expected. Revenue from parking is also under budget although the Council recently made significant increases to the cost of visitor permits.

Suggested cuts included the axing of funding for all non-statutory services which could include funding for the Priority Community Centre in Acton which is already threatened with a reduction in funding. Events organised by the Council could also be axed.

The Council which received a weak rating from the Audit Commission earlier in the year (later amended) had previously minimised the impact of over spending by running down reserves. However, this year they were forced to make a massive 26% increase in Council Tax.

The leaked report also called for the scaling down of the "Making a World of Difference" project in which the Council plan to spend £40 million pound improving the way that they deal with the public.

Cllr leader, John Cudmore, reportedly said that "there was no way" that all non-statutory services would be cut and described the idea as "bonkers". At the same time he insisted that the 40 million communications project would proceed. Cllr. Cudmore said that cuts would not be necessary because the Council's overspend would not be as large as the report predicted.

An audit commission spokeswoman reportedly said that they were aware of the situation and had asked the Council to produce action plans to address these issues and report them publicly as soon as possible.

August 29, 2003

New Council Tax levels announced