Wandsworth makes council tax pledge to help residents

Published: Thursday, February 4, 2021

Wandsworth Council is leading the way in London by freezing its general element of the council tax for the forthcoming year.

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Ravi Govindia, Leader of the council, said that helping residents during the Covid pandemic, particularly financially, was its top priority and explained how the council was able to do it.

He said: “Wandsworth has a long and proud history of having the lowest council tax, not only in London but the UK. For decades our residents have benefited from this and we have managed to deliver excellent quality services for the best value – making Wandsworth a special place to live.

“Years of hard work and prudent financial management have allowed us to do this and I’m now delighted to say that because of the strong building blocks we have in place, Wandsworth is in the position to be able to do the best for its residents by freezing its share of the general council tax charge for the next financial year.

“We recognise the impact that COVID is having on our residents, many of whom may be struggling financially for the first time. This is the single most effective thing we can do to help the largest number of people.”

The council is also planning to set up a new charitable trust to take donations from higher band council tax payers and others, should they want to contribute a little bit more to help those who may be financially worse off.

Cllr Govindia said: “What we have learnt from this pandemic is the strong sense of community we have in Wandsworth. I know there are people in the borough, already benefiting from low council tax, who want to pay a little bit more to help those in our community and we want to give them the opportunity to do that.”

The council tax recommendations are set out in the annual budget setting report which will go to the Finance, Resources and Climate Sustainability Committee before being finalised at the next full council meeting.

The recommendations will include a three per cent increase to money used to fund social care, protecting the vital services that those who are elderly, sick or vulnerable rely on so heavily.

Cllr Govindia said: “We have seen throughout the pandemic just how important our social care services have been and this we will continue to support all our carers who are so important to our communities and make a real difference to people’s lives particularly during these difficult times.”

This will mean an average extra charge of £14.03 a year, with Wandsworth residents still benefiting from one of the lowest council tax bills in the country.

In contrast, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is proposing to increase his share of council tax by 9.5 per cent, meaning his precept will rise by £31.59 a year.

This takes Wandsworth’s overall average Band D council tax bill for the entire year to £845.44 - of which £363.66 is payable to the Mayor.

Councillor Rory O’Broin, Cabinet member for Finance, Resources and Climate Sustainability, said:

“For decades we have worked hard to make sure that our residents have one of the lowest council taxes in London, while at the same time delivering some of the best-run local government services in the country.

“By freezing our share of the general element of the council tax this year, we are doing our best to help residents keep their household costs down during these uncertain times and we will continue to find ways to support our communities as we emerge from the pandemic.”