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Council tax bills in Tower Hamlets set to rise by 2 per cent

PUBLISHED: 18:49 21 December 2017 | UPDATED: 15:35 22 December 2017

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs said council tax bills will rise.  Picture: Mike Brooke

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs said council tax bills will rise. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

Council tax is going up for thousands of households in the borough despite Tower Hamlets putting a freeze on the budget bill.

The overall bills are set to be increased by two per cent next April.

Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs told the Advertiser the overall increase is due to a two per cent rise in the social care element of the bill.

He said: “We need £2-and-a-half million extra a year just to stand still.

“There’ll be a two per cent rise this year in the adult social care precept, but the main council tax will have a ‘zero’ increase - so that won’t rise at all.”

The government has given a green light for local authorities to raise the social care part of the tax by up to six per cent over three years.

Tower Hamlets is likely to spread the rise at two per cent a year from 2018 to 2020.

That means a typical Band-D household currently paying £966 will pay an extra £20 in April.

The council is starting public consultations before February’s crunch budget meeting at the town hall when it votes on the increase.

This follows last year’s public backlash when council tax shot up five per cent.

“People found five per cent quite a big pressure on their finances,” the mayor admitted.

“We made the most painful decisions last year to save £30m because our budget was in crisis. Tax went up five per cent — we can’t do that very often because it involves some pain for households.

“People are on squeezed budgets with rents going up and wages staying still.”

Tower Hamlets has the “seventh lowest council tax in London”.

He added: “I would like a magic fund of money where we don’t have to tax anyone anything.”

But there is no magic fund. Instead, some inevitable cuts - or “efficiency” trimming, as the town hall puts it.

The One Stop shops for all council services like housing or car-parking permits under one roof are being merged into the Ideas Store library centres.

The managements will merge, but the mayor promises the specialist staff will continue face-to-face contact with the public - librarians won’t be dealing with benefits or parking queries.

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