Richmond Council announces council tax rise to protect services, meet social care needs and support borough’s most vulnerable

By Heather Nicholls

22nd Feb 2024 | Local News

Richmond Council announces council tax rise to protect services, meet social care needs and support borough’s most vulnerable. (Photo Credit: Richmond Council).
Richmond Council announces council tax rise to protect services, meet social care needs and support borough’s most vulnerable. (Photo Credit: Richmond Council).

Richmond Council is proposing to raise core council tax to address the significant impact social care costs and the homelessness crisis is having on Council budgets.

The core Council Tax is proposed to increase by 2.99 per cent, with a further 2 per cent increase in the precept for Adult Social Care, as allowed under government funding plans.

Cllr Robin Brown, Richmond Council Lead Member for Finance, said: "Thanks to long-term, good financial management, Richmond Council is able to balance its books, meaning we can continue to protect our core services and invest in the things that are important for our residents.

"However, the reality is that no matter how well we run the council, we are not immune from the financial pressures that others are facing.

"Costs of providing adult and children's social care to those most vulnerable residents in our borough accounts for the largest proportion of the Council's spend, over 60%.

"The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the high cost of living mean we are seeing even more demand for these services."

 Cllr Brown added: "We are also facing a housing crisis, with the number of people presenting homeless in need of temporary accommodation dramatically increasing as they are being forced out of existing accommodation.

"We don't do this lightly given the pressures on people's finances, but this is necessary for us to deliver a fair deal for all our residents, and we will continue to work hard to make efficiencies and modernise our services to ensure a strong future for Richmond upon Thames."

The Council has previously dedicated £3 million to assist residents, businesses and the voluntary sector through the cost-of-living crisis and is providing an additional £1.5 million in the budget.

Since 2022, nearly £1 million has been dedicated to the voluntary sector to support residents, while over £300,000 of unclaimed benefits have been identified and residents have been supported to claim what they are entitled to.

A record level of support will be given through the Council's 2023/24 Fuel Grant scheme, with over 1,500 households receiving assistance totalling over a quarter of a million pounds.

Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, said: "We are calling on the Government to continue the Household Support Fund which has provided a lifeline to many families in these difficult times.

"But we are proud to announce that, even if this funding is stopped, the Council will step up in the coming year and continue to fund meals in the holidays for those children who receive free school meals.

"We know how much this support means to many of our hardest pressed households."

The Council has also set out other key areas for investment over the coming financial year:

  • Investing in school facilities, including creating additional places for special needs education
  • Delivering more cost-effective temporary accommodation by becoming a Registered Provider
  • Starting work on the delivery of the new Twickenham Riverside
  • Completing vital improvement works to the Teddington Lock footbridges
  • Delivering more affordable housing
  • Becoming a Borough of Sanctuary for refugees and people seeking sanctuary
  • Delivering a new leisure strategy and improving facilities and supporting people to be more active, more often
  • Looking at flood resilience as part of the climate emergency strategy 
  • Supporting High Streets and local businesses
  • Investing in our tourism sector and advice programmes for local businesses
  • Looking after the borough's roads and pavements
  • Maintaining libraries, playgrounds, leisure centres and parks

The budget proposals will be discussed at next week's Finance, Policy and Resources Committee meeting (Thursday 29 February), after which Richmond's Full Council will consider the proposal on Tuesday 5 March.

The precept charged by the Mayor of London is increasing by 8.58%. This means that the total band D bill will increase to £2,263.66, an increase of 5.72%.

Residents who need help with Council Tax payments may be entitled to support. Find out more via the Council's Cost of Living Hub, or by calling 020 8891 1411.

Read the full report.

     

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