Islington cost of living budget brings 4.99% council tax increase

“We need to invest in services that matter to local residents,” said deputy council leader.

By Julia Gregory, Local Democracy Reporter

Diarmaid Ward, deputy leader Islington.
Diarmaid Ward, deputy leader Islington. PHOTO: Julia Gregory/LDRS

Residents in Islington will see a 4.99% increase in their council tax bills.

The increase is the highest the council is allowed without going to the voters.

The increase was approved as part of a cost of living budget drawn up by the Labour-run council on March 2nd.

It means people in Band D homes will pay an extra £65.60 towards council services taking their bill to £1,380.25, plus £434.14 for services such as police and fire provided by the Greater London Assembly.

Full council tax payers in Band D homes will fork out an extra £1.26 a week for council services.

People on the lowest get 95% council tax support and the council is aslo continuing with its hardship fund.

Diarmaid Ward, the councillor with responsibility for finance said: “The cost-of-living crisis is having a significant impact on Islington residents and businesses, and the council. High inflation has resulted in significant budget pressures in respect of energy and fuel costs, pay inflation and high contract inflation for key service areas.”

He told colleagues: “We need to invest in services that matter to local residents.”

The budget sees £10.9m savings, with a further £8m on the cards for the next financial year.

Savings include £862,000 on an inhouse reablement service for people leaving hospital aimed at cutting the need for care, with a total of £2m trimmed from the budget for adult social services and £2m on voluntary redundancy payments.

The hike in energy prices, partly fuelled by the on-going war in Ukraine means the council has set aside an extra £4.8m contingency fund to pay fro the increase.

Councillor Ward pledged that investment continued in frontline services. “This includes protection of free school meals for every primary school pupil, keeping our libraries open, maintaining weekly recycling and rubbish collections and a regular street sweeping programme.”

The Green opposition proposed giving people on the lowest incomes a 100% coucnil tax relief, meaning they would not have to worry about paying council tax.

Greens leader Caroline Russell said this would help people who “are also burdened with increasing council tax and rent arrears.”

She said: “it is the right thing to do.”

Proposals also include funding five more officers to tackle the backlog in housing repairs. They also suggested an £1m over the next three years “to address cold, damp and mouldy homes, prioritising over-crowded households as they are worst affected.”

Greens also want to see more bike hangars on streets and estates which would tackle the fire risk of bikes stored in hallways and landings and encourage more people to cycle.

Cllr Russell also proposed a public toilet fund and to look at launching a Workplace Parking Levy.

She also suggested an ‘Islington’s Tutoring Booster’ fund “to support school aged children, especially those with pupil premium and historic groups in Islington with an attainment gap. ”

She said it would “reduce disparities between different socio-economic groups within the borough.”

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