Hounslow increases by 7.1% to top £1000 for Band D with Ealing increasing by 7.5% but on a lower base.

The London Borough of Hounslow have agreed a Council Tax rise of 7.1% in what has been "one of the toughest budgets" Hounslow has ever had to face according to Council Leader John Connelly. The Council claim that the rise was necessary due to them receiving one of the lowest government grant settlements in London. The rise makes Hounslow one of the highest tax boroughs in London with a Band D charge of £1022. For Chiswick residents in Ealing the news is slightly better; although tax rose by 7.5%, the overall charge remains comparatively low at £885 one of the lower levels in London.

About 1.5% of the rise in each borough is accounted for by the extra money payable to the GLA.

With not all boroughs having declared their tax rise for this year it remains to be seen whether the rise will make Hounslow London's highest tax borough. A recent report on parking charges in Chiswick has led some people to suggest that this area is already the highest taxed area of London.

Hounslow blame financial pressures include the ever-rising numbers of children coming into social services care, which is a national problem. The Council has a legal duty to look after these children even though they say the amount the government allocates for social services is increasingly inadequate to meet these rising costs. Maintaining all services at current levels and allowing for new spending pressures would have meant a Council Tax rise of over 20% in their view.

Consultation with residents about their service priorities and what Council Tax increase they would prefer in order to pay for them showed that the majority preferred a higher increase than see cuts to front line services.

Cllr John Connelly, Leader of the London Borough of Hounslow said, "It was clear from our consultation with residents that the majority of people did not want to see cuts to important services that could affect the elderly, children and our quality of life. It was important that we gave local people the chance to understand the alternatives and tell us what level of Council Tax increase they were willing to see in order to pay for the services they told us they wanted to protect."

In fact there was an element of controversy to the consultation with some claiming that there should have been an option to select an even higher tax increase with no cuts at all in key services like education.

In a telephone survey of 500 residents Hounslow Council were asked a series of questions about the budget options. The majority of respondents preferred to pay more tax and maintain services with 78% against cuts in funding to schools. The only proposed cut that didn't attract majority opposition was that to leisure services and parks.

On the phone survey only 21% of respondents opted for the 6% increase whereas two thirds opted for this on the on-line/postcard survey. However the higher tax increase of 8% was not given as an option on the on-line survey.

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