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Council Tax is always an emotive issue in Westminster politics but residents can be confident that Labour will keep Council Tax low.
Westminster Council receives the highest levels of parking revenue (£73.2m) in the country as well as substantial commercial income from its large Central London property portfolio (£42.8m) that help prop up its finances far more than in other boroughs. Westminster’s current total council tax collection brings in around £52m per year- only around 6% of the Council's income.
Despite this due to the impact of crippling Conservative Government cuts to local council funding Westminster Conservatives have raised the Council Tax (the general rate and the adult social care precept) every year since 2016. The Conservatives raised Council Tax by 4% in 2016/17, 4% in 2017/18 and now by 2% in 2018/19.
This is set against cuts forced by the Conservative Government of £38 million in 2018/19 that saw a further £3 million from services for children and young people and £2 million from rough sleeping and supported housing.
If elected in May Westminster Labour pledges to keep Council Tax low. Labour is making a clear commitment that if elected we will not raise the council tax and adult social care precept by any more than the Tories have over recent years. Not only is Council Tax not the main way the Council raises money, a 2% rise brings in less than £1m per year, it is an unfair tax that hits those on low incomes hardest. Councils are also prevented in law from raising the general Council Tax rate or the Adult Social Care precept by more than 3% each (6% total) without holding a referendum of residents- something that has never happened.
Labour will continue to push the Government for fairer funding for local government but will also work to find new ways to support local services, including new ways to earn commercial income. A central part of Labour’s approach will be a ‘zero-based’ review of all existing council expenditure, assessing every pound the council spends to ensure the spend is justified and think how it might be reduced. The review will be backed up by an external ‘critical friends’ board in order to find further efficiencies, including big cuts to spending on temporary and agency worker costs, scrapping the Westminster Reporter, making savings in the Lord Mayor's Office and cutting payments to Deputy Cabinet Members.
Labour's recent budget plans were fully costed and approved by Council Officers and would enable money to be invested to met our ambitious but deliverable manifesto commitments. We will also protect current services residents value such as twice weekly bin collections.
Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance David Boothroyd said “Westminster Conservatives keep claiming their council tax levels are because they’re efficient – but people who have actually seen inside the council know the truth. Under Conservative management the council has managed to suppress the full story coming about some of their capers, such as the Managed Services Programme contract, which have led to massive waste of taxpayer’s money. Labour will make sure the council spends efficiently and on the priorities of residents.”
Labour's promise to Westminster residents is that if we win the Council on May 3rd we will keep Council Tax low. We will not raise it by any more than the Conservatives have.
Westminster Council rearranged the production of its usually quarterly local propaganda magazine ‘The Westminster Reporter’ so that three editions were delivered to local residents in the four months prior to ‘purdah’ ban on election advertising at the cost to the tax payer of £180,000.Read more
Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville, Labour’s Team for the West End, have launched their 5-point plan to support Soho’s small businesses.Read more
After decades of the Conservatives taking Westminster for granted, residents have a real chance to change the future of this city. Years of Conservative cuts have taken their toll on local services, particularly for the most vulnerable. The Conservatives have put the needs of developers above the needs of the vast majority of local residents. For generations they have failed to build the Council (social rent) and lower (intermediate) rent homes that Westminster needs to give the City a viable future.Read more
The Westminster economy is one of the most successful in Europe and a Labour Council will ensure that this success continues and that more local residents and small businesses share in the fruits of this economic success.Read more
KEY PLEDGE: Westminster Labour will fight for fairness in our communities by supporting the London Living Wage and defending the rights of our EU Citizens
If elected on May 3rd Labour will commit the council to paying the London Living Wage not only to its directly employed staff but also to any future contractors. Under Labour Westminster would seek accreditation with the Living Wage Foundation to provide reassurance that our pledges had been met. We would also sign-up to sector specific agreements, such as the Unison Ethical Care Charter, to help improve working practices across the council and further enshrine our commitment to fair pay. Labour is committed to fair pay not only because it the right thing to do for our workers but because it can help to improve the quality of our public services that our staff deliver.Read more
Westminster Labour call for public inquiry into BT's failure to provide super fast broadband in the West End, St John's Wood and across Westminster
Westminster Labour Councillors have called for a Public Inquiry into BT's failure to provide super fast broadband to residents in the West End, St John's Wood and elsewhere in Westminster.Read more
Labour is deeply concerned that some of Westminster’s most iconic areas are under threat and that action needs to be taken by the council to help protect them. Soho has fallen victim to over-development, pressures from Crossrail, rising rents and the encroachment of global high street. If action is not taken now to save it, what makes these areas unique may be lost for ever. Similarly Chinatown is facing similar encroachment and pressure from rising rents.Read more
As Westminster Tories prepare to push through a further £38.5m in ‘savings’ for 2018/19 at the Full Council meeting on Wednesday 7th March, Westminster residents are fed up with the constant cuts to their services.
Much of the Tory focus will be on their voluntary council tax payments for the owners of large homes. Any money helps but, with this predicted to only raise £350k, it is little more than a distraction from the scale of cuts demanded by the Tory Government and cheered on by the Conservative council.
The election of a Labour Council for Westminster on May 3rd would itself be a massive repudiation of the Tory Government’s agenda. However if elected a Labour council would use its campaigning and communications expertise to highlight the huge impact of Tory cuts on ordinary families and push the Government to change its approach.
The Conservative Government’s current commitment to austerity means that whoever controls the council there will be tough decisions ahead around local public services. However using the ‘zero-based’ budget review and ideas set out in previous Labour budget amendments a Labour council would reallocate funding to the priorities of ordinary residents and protect the most vulnerable, while keeping council tax low.
In addition to protecting twice weekly bin collections and new action on bulky waste dumping Labour is committed to supporting vital public services. As examples of the priorities it would bring to running the council Labour would:
- restore council funding for local youth clubs
- protect children’s centre services, particularly stay and play schemes and early intervention
- improve support to the elderly and vulnerable by developing integrated health and wellbeing hubs, investing in home adaptations and improving care standards
Ahead of the election on May 3rd Westminster Labour is delighted to announce its first key election pledge:
- A Labour council will stand up to Conservative Government cuts and restore support for vital public services such as our youth clubs, children’s centres and support for the elderly and vulnerable