Thursday 10 January 2013

Butt confirms no 2% council tax rise this year

Mike Bowden, Assistant Director of Brent Finance gave a presentation to the Budget and Finance Overview and Scrutiny Committee in November 2012  that assumed a council tax rise of 3.5% for the 2013-14 council budget LINK. Shortly afterwards Eric Pickles established a requirement for a local referendum if increases were above a 2% threshold. Last year a number of councils of various political hues increased council tax below the 3.5% threshold that existed then.

I understand that there has been discussion in the Brent Executive as to whether to raise Council Tax with the benefit marginal after grant losses and  a reduced collection rate are taken into account. A rise above 2% would have incurred the cost of a local referendum.  It would of course have been another additional cost for people already suffering from benefit cuts and low or frozen wages. An alternative view is that calling the Coalition's bluff and triggering a referendum could result in a proper political debate about the need to adequately fund  local services and the iniquities of the Coalition's grant reduction to local authorities. Only a very small percentage of local government revenue comes from council taxes and charges.

Brent Council leader Muhammed Butt has confirmed via a Facebook interchange with me that there will not be a 2% rise this year. Asked about a possible lower rise he said that the Council was looking at the settlement figures as part of the budgetary process and considering the offer of the freeze grant.

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