Warning Over Tough Decisions Ahead for Hounslow Council

Leader suggests government funding settlement requires maximum tax rise

Councillor Shantanu Rajawat says choice is between putting up taxes or budget shortfall
Councillor Shantanu Rajawat says choice is between putting up taxes or budget shortfall

January 13, 2023

The Leader of Hounslow Council, Councillor Shantanu Rajawat, is suggesting that the borough will have no choice but to raise Council Tax by the maximum.

This is just one of the tough decisions the council will have to take due to increasing costs, rising demand for services and the level of funding provided in the latest settlement from central government.

The funding deal for local authorities was announced before Christmas and the council is now working out what increase it will be necessary to ask residents to pay as well as which services can be maintained given pressures on finances.

Commenting on the settlement Cllr Rajawat said, “Hounslow – like many other boroughs – continues to face a steep rise in demand for services, while juggling tighter budgets and soaring costs.

“Local authorities are taking responsibility and stepping-up to look after vulnerable people with complex needs during the cost-of-living crisis, so it is vital that we are properly funded.

“The proposed local government funding settlement is calculated on the assumption that councils will put up council tax by 5%. If that deal goes ahead, we will face the stark choice of either putting up council tax or having a very significant budget shortfall.

“It is also of concern that the government has not committed to longer-term funding for councils, which means we cannot be certain about how much money we will have in the years ahead, making it difficult to plan.

“With inflation at a 40-year high and demand for many of our vital services never greater, we will inevitably have to make some very tough choices over the coming weeks once the funding we receive from the government is confirmed.”

Concerns about the level of settlement were also raised by local MP Ruth Cadbury who pointed out that less money was being committed to housing. The Institute for Fiscal Studies found that the government department in charge of housebuilding (DLUHC), would see the biggest reduction in their budget after 2025 out of any departments.

She raised the matter in the House of Commons on Monday (9 January) saying that, “over 1 million people were in need of good quality housing and warned this number would only grow.”

Commenting in full afterwards, the Brentford & Isleworth MP said, “Every week I hear from people locally who are in need of a good quality secure home at a price they can afford. ‘Too many people locally are trapped in high cost private rented housing, often of poor quality.

‘‘People locally want to see more council and other social rent housing which provides high quality homes and long-term security for families at prices they can afford. It was extremely concerning that the Minister did not even mention social housing in her response which shows just how little the Government care about building good quality homes for a social rent.’’

Cllr Rajawat pledged that the council would try to protect less well-off residents saying, “Whatever happens though we must be financially responsible and make sure we can balance the books, while continuing to provide that safety net for those in need.

“We know times are very difficult at the moment for many of our residents and we will continue to do everything we can to work efficiently, keep our costs down and make sure we use our money wisely, on the things that make a real difference to our residents’ lives.”

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