Conservatives propose alternative to Labour’s 1.99% Council Tax rise

Conservative councillors in Greenwich will oppose Labour’s 1.99% Council Tax rise at the Town Hall this evening, instead proposing a fully costed alternative that delivers the same increase in Adult Social Care funding without the need for the 1.99% rise.

The proposal comes as the Labour Leader of the Council, Denise Hyland, came under fire for missing her own budget-setting meeting due to a trip to an ‘expo’ in Taiwan.

Labour’s planned 1.99% Council Tax rise, on top of a 3% Council Tax precept ring-fenced for Adult Social Care which has cross-party support, is the maximum the council is allowed by law to introduce without putting its plans to a public vote in a referendum. Conservative councillors have criticised the administration for failing to even formally consider an alternative to the 1.99% rise.

Conservative councillors’ alternative budget proposal, which will be presented at Woolwich Town Hall this evening, delivers the same increases in funding for Adult Social Care, Children’s Services and Homelessness as Labour’s budget without the need for a 1.99% Council Tax rise, by:

  • Maximising the use of the government’s Apprenticeship Levy, instead of Labour’s approach of “budgeting for failure” to the tune of £400,000
  • Ending Labour’s “pointless” fortnightly magazine, Greenwich Information, saving a minimum of £334,000, and scrapping £245,000 in taxpayer funding for Trade Union activity in the borough
  • Realising significant savings from reducing waste, inefficiency and admin costs across the council. Examples include £35,000 a year spent on PR/‘reputation management’ services and professional photography, £38,000 to receive emails from the Local Government Information unit and £14,000 a year on catering at the Mayor’ Inauguration.

In addition, the Conservative proposal would increase funding for the Greenwich Local Labour Programme (GLLP) scheme over the next three years to help more people into work and boost street cleansing in the borough, and calls for new anti-poverty measures including exempting care leavers from Council Tax up to the age of 25, as several other authorities have now done.

Councillor Matt Hartley, Leader of Greenwich Conservatives, said: “I find it astonishing that at time when this Labour council is bringing forward a tax-rising budget centred on adult social care, both the Leader of the Council and the Cabinet Member responsible for adult social care are not even attending the meeting. This is deeply disrespectful to the residents into whose pockets their Labour budget seeks to dig even deeper.

“Our fully-costed alternative proposal shows that Labour’s 1.99% Council Tax rise is completely unnecessary – and that the same funding increase to Adult Social Care and other services can be achieved without this rise, by reducing waste and inefficiency across the council.

“As ever, Labour councillors’ first and last instinct is to raise Council Tax by as much as they can possibly get away with, without holding a referendum, and without even formally considering alternatives.

“At the same time, our Conservative plan would introduce new anti-poverty measures that would be of real benefit to people in financial difficulty – and would improve service levels in Street Cleansing over the next three years.”

The meeting can be watched online at https://royalgreenwich.public-i.tv/core/portal/home