Wandsworth average council tax still lowest in the country
Published: Tuesday 19th February 13
The average council tax bill in Wandsworth will still be the lowest in the country following proposals published today to freeze the council’s own share of the bill.
While the council's levy will remain unchanged, it is having to pass on increases from other public organisations whose funding makes up part of the bill. This includes the cost of refuse disposal by the Western Riverside Waste Authority.
If agreed by councillors on March 6, bills will go up by 22p per week from April - an overall rise of 3.1 per cent. This represents only the second increase in ten years while many other household costs during this time have virtually doubled.
Borough residents pay around half the council tax bills that other Londoners have to pay. Wandsworth's Band D bill for 2012/13 was £684, compared to a London average of more than £1,300.
A study looking at council tax levels over the past 20 years shows that Wandsworth Band D payers are £10,054 better off over that period than taxpayers in Merton, £11,741 better off than Kingston taxpayers and £12,108 better off than Richmond's.
The news comes as Wandsworth unveils plans for a major re-organisation of services which could see the number of departments and directors reduced from six to four - reinforcing its position as one of the leanest councils in London.
Cllr Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council, said: "We have been striving to achieve best possible value and efficiency for over a generation, while most other councils have only just started.
"Once again we have been able to freeze our share of bills but we cannot absorb costs that are beyond our control and are levied by other statutory organisations.
"Our budgets remain under extreme pressure and further action is required if we are to make the necessary savings in the years ahead to ensure we do not increase the financial burden on residents.
"That is why we are also taking steps to slim down the council even further, by reducing senior staff numbers, cutting back-office costs, reducing the amounts spent on running and maintaining office buildings and seeking new efficiencies across all our services."
The council is on course to meet its spending reduction target of £80m by 2014. However the period beyond 2014 requires an additional reduction of £20m - meaning the council will have had to find savings worth £100m over this five year period.
As part of the reorganisation, the council will now be exploring new and innovative ways of delivering a far wider range of services in partnership with the private sector. The council has a long and successful 35-year record of working closely with the private sector to deliver high quality local services at the best value for money prices.
Cllr Govindia added: "We are continuing to do everything we can to protect frontline services despite the huge savings we are required to make to help pay off the nation's debt mountain.
"We are proud to have some of the best parks and cleanest streets, proud to be maintaining weekly refuse collections and proud to be keeping all our libraries open.
"We are also proud of the work we are doing to look after our most vulnerable residents properly and we are proud that Wandsworth is a place where people can make the most of their talents, where we are improving our neighbourhoods, creating new jobs, improving transport links and extending educational choice and opportunity.
"This is only the second increase in ten years and our residents can rest assured that we will always be Britain's number one council for value and service."
And as well as low council tax bills, a new study has revealed that local people also benefit from some of the lowest car and house contents insurance in inner London. That is because Wandsworth is inner London's safest borough.
The study used price comparison websites to check the cost of insuring both a car and also household contents in Wandsworth, Lambeth, Merton and Hammersmith & Fulham. In virtually all the scenarios the Wandsworth prices came out cheapest - amounting in some cases to a saving of several hundreds pounds a year.