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Jan 21 2013

Bob Blackman: Harrow set to have third highest Council Tax in London

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Harrow Council is to become the one of only two authorities in London to increase its Council Tax when it votes on its draft budget next month. As part of the proposals, Council Tax will rise by 2% annually for the next four years. The rise will see a typical household’s Council Tax bill increased by nearly £100 over the period.

Bob Blackman, MP for Harrow East, has criticised the increase, arguing that all across London, council’s have identified savings without cuts to frontline services and without the need to increase council taxes.

‘The Labour administration in Harrow has rejected up to £3.6 million of central Government grants in order to charge its residents an extra £7.2 million. This decision is disgraceful and illustrates the council’s wrong-footed approach, especially when looking at the example of Hammersmith and Fulham, where council tax has been cut 6 times in the past 7 years. The increases will see Harrow’s residents paying the third highest Council Taxes in London’.

The Government has allocated funds for Local Authorities to freeze Council Taxes. Under the scheme, councils are entitled to funds equivalent to a 1% Council Tax rise but are ineligible if Council Tax rises exceeds this figure. Harrow Council’s decision to raise council taxes by 2% means that it is has excluded itself from benefitting from the scheme.

Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday Politics show this weekend, Bob Blackman said that ‘Previously, one of the issues about the Council Tax freeze was that it was awarded on a one year by on year option, and people might have said that this is a bit risky, wondering what would happen if the Government didn’t provide it next year. Now the Government have incorporated that in the grant going forward’.

Harrow Council’s own figures also show that, despite a rise in Council Tax, the overall amount collected is set to dramatically reduce. In 2012/13 Harrow Council’s Council Tax income was £104,582,000. In 2013/14 this amount is set to reduce to £93,039,000. This reduction may be in part due to the Council’s downgrading of its collection rate. In 2012/13 the collection rate stood at 98.5%. This has been reduced to 97.5% as of 2013/14.

The budget will be voted on by Harrow Council on the 28th February.

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