Council Tax in Hammersmith and Fulham going up. The Council’s share to increase by inflation-busting 4.7 per cent. The Council’s Band D share will go up from £727.81 to £762.01. On top of that Mayoral precept is going up by nine per cent – for Band D up from £294.23 to £320.51. Labour hitting the poorest the hardest. The current inflation rate is 1.8 per cent.
In their Manifesto for the Council elections last year, Labour promised:
“We will continue to keep council tax and council charges low.”
That is a bit vague. It could include cutting Council Tax. Or freezing Council Tax. At a stretch, it could include increasing Council Tax at or below inflation. But I don’t think that pledge is consistent with increasing Council Tax by over twice the inflation rate.
What makes it worse is that the Council is not being honest about its tax increase. In the Budget papers, it calls it an “adjustment”. It says the figure is only 2.7 per cent – that the further two per cent for the “adult social care precept” in some way doesn’t count. It does if you are a Council Taxpayer having to pay the bill. It is money that goes to the Council and it is the Council’s decision whether or not to apply it.
Nor does it follow that just because the Council is spending more on social care that it has a good record. On the contrary, its record is deplorable. See here and here and here and here and here and here.
So often with these examples the bureaucratic delay and mismanagement mean both high spending and poor service. But that doesn’t stop the Labour councillors standing up in the Council chamber boasting about how caring they are and complaining about austerity.
The same point applies to children stuck in the care system. The number in Hammersmith and Fulham is 230 – that is an increase from 204 in 2014. Many of them could and should be placed for adoption and thus have the chance of a permanent loving home. But for ideological reasons the Council is obstructive towards adoption – with a huge human as well as financial cost.
. For all this virtue signalling they can certainly find money for their really important priorities – increasing their “special responsibility allowances” so that councillor allowances spending is up this financial year from £785,600 to £847,000. There is also the kickback to the union paymasters – nearly £200,000 of Council Taxpayers money in the borough spent on salaries for union officials.
All this supposed austerity still allows them to pay the Council’s chief executive £169,000 a year plus employ another 12 bureaucrats on six figure salaries.
The Council owns 242 of these garages are currently empty. Often these are sites that could provide much needed new homes.
£12 million a year is spent on interest payments on the Council’s debt. Yet the Council clings onto surplus land and vacant buildings. As the Council tax raises £55 million a year inteerst charges represent a pretty hefty item.
With an Orwellian touch the Council’s names one of most wasteful departments “Delivery and Value”. This has annual spending of £1.79 million and includes such items as “Policy and Strategy” £471,000 and £164,000 on “communications”.
Small wonder the Council leader prefers pontificating about Brexit than talking about his record.