Council tax expected to go up by 3.99pc in Tower Hamlets — overtaking average wage rise

Council tax is likely to go up in April above inflation when it goes before Tower Hamlets Council next month.

Council tax is likely to go up in April above inflation when Tower Hamlets Council makes its decision next month.

The rise would be almost 4 per cent, agreed at its cabinet meeting — despite the mayor being urged at a public forum before Christmas not to increase tax to cover any government funding gap.

The mayor is recommending a tax rise of 1.99pc plus a further 2pc to pay for adult social care, making the full rise 3.99pc.

This means an extra 78p a week for the average Band D property, around £40 a year.

Tower Hamlets currently has the seventh lowest council tax in London and that will continue after April, the mayor assures.

"These are difficult times," he said. "But we're working to make services more efficient to protect frontline services, despite the Tory government slashing our funding.

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"We are protecting our investment in additional police, new homes and cleaner streets as well as increasing support for the most vulnerable."

The Labour-run authority plans £7.2m additional cash for children with social care or special educational needs and disabilities and a further £12.4m for vulnerable adults services as well as protecting the council's Tackling Poverty fund and Free School Meals programmes.

Cllr Candida Ronald, Cabinet Member for Resources and Voluntary Sector, said: "Each year it is becoming harder as demand grows for services and government cuts continue. We need the government to reverse the massive cuts which have hammered local authorities over the last decade."

But the Opposition Conservatives on the council are proposing an "alternative" budget with a rise between 2pc and 3pc, claiming Labour's 3.99pc rise takes it above the national average wage increase.

Tory group leader Andrew Wood told the East London Advertiser: "Rises should be less than national wage rise, but Labour's tax rise is becoming more expensive year by year.

"There is a lot of cash lying around not doing much that should be invested in schemes that will earn revenue for the authority, so that the taxpayer doesn't carry the burden."

The group proposes investing in wind farms like the Labour-run Warrington borough council, suggesting Tower Hamlets could do the same to earn revenues that could top up the town hall coffers.

Another idea being mooted is an electric car-charging network across the East End to earn revenue at cost to users including taxi companies and delivery firms, creating a commercial income.

Investments could also be made from the £22m from the government as a new homes bonus paid to Tower Hamlets for its social house-building programme.