Council tax rise will pay for social care
03 March, 2017 — By Koos Couvée
COUNCILLORS have agreed to raise council tax by 5 per cent from April.
At a full council budget meeting last week, they voted to raise council tax by an extra 3 per cent per year over the next two years to pay for social care, on top of the 2 per cent councils are allowed to put up bills by every year without having to hold a referendum.
Lone opposition councillor Caroline Russell, for the Green Party, had proposed an amendment for an additional 5 per cent increase to prevent cuts to some services – on top of the 5 per cent proposed by Labour – but this was defeated.
The Labour administration has set aside £40m for new council housing and £3m for employment services. The authority has had to save £21.4m in the 2017/18 budget, on top of the £170m of cuts it has had to make since 2010. By 2020, its budget will have decreased by 70 per cent.
Of Islington Council’s almost 5,000-strong workforce, 54 posts are being scrapped – 21 are vacancies that will not be filled, while 26 staff face compulsory redundancy and seven will take voluntary redundancy.
A Children’s Society campaign has called on councils to make care leavers exempt from paying council tax until they turn 21. But the Town Hall has gone further and agreed to scrap council tax for young people leaving any local authority’s care and living in Islington until the age of 25 from April.
The relief is expected to cost the council in the region of £28,000 a year.