H&F Council Tax To Rise By Five Per Cent

Most of the increase will be used for adult social care services

Council tax to rise by the maximum allowed without a referendum

Hammersmith and Fulham residents will pay five per cent more council tax from April.

A new report by the council shows this will cost the average Band D property an extra £39.54 a year, with a total tax bill of £792 for the financial year 2021/22.

This will not include the planned increase in the Mayor of London’s share of council tax, which will see the average London household pay a further £31.59 more.

Overall, the average household in the borough will pay £71 more in tax in 2021/22 than in 2020/21.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s share of the tax increase will raise £3.2 million during 2021/22.

However, the borough will still have the third lowest council tax rate of any authority in the country, behind Wandsworth and Westminster.

The council’s five per cent rise comes in two parts. Three per cent of it will be used exclusively to pay for adult social care services, and has been enforced by the Government. The other two per cent is raised voluntarily by the council and will be spent as it wishes.

Under the law, any council wishing to voluntarily raise its share of council tax by more than two per cent in a year can only do so if residents vote for it in a local referendum.

Last week, at a Full Council meeting, it was stated that the council also expects to lose £800,000 of its council tax revenue in 2021/22 due to huge numbers of residents facing financial difficulties during the pandemic, and therefore qualifying for the Council Tax Support Scheme.

Meanwhile, the Mayor’s share of the tax increase, the £31.59 a year, will fund services such as the Met Police, London Fire Brigade and TfL, whose finances have been badly hit by the collapse in fare revenue.

In total, the council will spend £164 million on all its services in 2021/22, as well as money it will put away for savings.

Like other councils, Hammersmith and Fulham’s finances have taken a beating over the past year.

It has lost vast sums of revenue from sources such as parking fees and commercial rent while having to invest millions into making its services Covid-safe, and trying to support a growing number of poor and vulnerable people.

At a Town Hall meeting on 25 January, the council’s director of finance, Emily Hill, said the borough was still dealing with government funding cuts made over the last 10 years.

“Local government is still worse off in both cash and in real terms compared to 2010/11,” she said.

A report presented to the meeting also said that government funding allocations to Hammersmith and Fulham “have been cut by £63m from 2010/11 to 2021/22”.

Owen Sheppard - Local Democracy Reporter

January 26, 2021