Bexley residents facing likely maximum rise in council tax bills

By Joe Coughlan, Local Democracy Reporter

Bexley council has revealed plans to increase council tax by the maximum possible amount for the forthcoming financial year.

That means residents are facing a five per cent rise, while the council’s projected deficit climbs to more than £40 million.

Council documents said the authority’s budget gap was projected to be £43.35m by the 2027/28 financial year. The figure was previously cited as being £39.28m in a report from November last year.

The topic was discussed at a cabinet meeting on Monday.

Council officers said in their report that the proposed balanced budget was based on the assumption that council tax would be increasing by 2.99 per cent in the upcoming financial year, as well as the two per cent Adult Social Care precept rise.

Conservative councillor David Leaf, cabinet member for resources, said at the meeting: “This will help support us to invest in services and I remain grateful to households across the borough for providing us with council tax revenues which will bring in over £140m next year.”

Cllr Leaf added that he acknowledged an increase in council tax can be challenging for residents. He said the authority was providing £15m through its council tax reduction scheme to support those on low incomes.

Council documents said pressures such as contract inflation, given the authority spends 54 per cent of its budget on outsourced services, as well as difficulty in recruiting and retaining staff as reasons for the projected overspend.

Increased levels of demand for adult social care and housing were also included as contributing factors.

Bexley Civic Centre, where Bexley council is based (Picture: Google Street View)

Conservative Councillor Teresa O’Neill, leader of the council, said at the meeting that the council had repeatedly asked the Government for a fair funding review to be carried out, but did not expect it to happen before the next general election.

Labour Councillor Stefano Borella said at the meeting that the proposed budget was ‘out of control’ and cited concerns over the consistent overspend included.

Cllr Leaf said in response that many local authorities were facing a similar financial challenge. He said: “There are particular challenges and pressures that are outlined in this report and we as a local authority are doing the best we can for some of the most vulnerable people in our society, that being children, adults and those with housing needs. That doesn’t come cheaply.”

The final budget for the upcoming financial year, including the proposed rise in council tax, will be decided at a public cabinet meeting later this month, followed by a full council meeting in March.

Pictured top: Conservative councillor David Leaf (left) speaking at this week’s meeting (Picture: Bexley council)


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