Manifesto - Your Money

Since the borough election in May 2002, standard Council Tax in Greenwich has risen by over £226, some 23.7%, despite increases in government grant to Greenwich, which have comfortably exceeded the London average.

 

We believe that such a position is inappropriate for a borough which remains, after 35 years of unbroken Labour rule, one of the poorest boroughs in London.

Many of our fellow citizens are financially hard pressed, seemingly inevitable above inflation council tax increases are a blow to those already desperately trying to make ends meet. How can anyone living on a state pension which rises with inflation, possibly afford a Council Tax which rises at 2 or 3 times that rate?

We believe that despite our excessive Council Tax, borough services are inadequate. Large increases in spending, particularly on education and social services, have not produced commensurate improvements in provision; all too often increased funding has been used to camouflage inefficiency and subvert the search for value - for - money.

With all this in mind, Conservatives have established four basic principles which will guide us in setting the Council Tax for Greenwich;

  • To provide services of which the Council and the people of Greenwich can be proud, and to seek to achieve performance in the top quartile of comparable local authorities; 
  • To provide services at a price people can afford. In terms of the Council Tax, this means a charge within the lowest quartile of London councils. Not only is this vital to protect those on modest incomes who do not qualify for benefit, but it is also essential to establish Greenwich as a place where people choose to live, so bringing prosperity to the borough. The attraction of spending power to the area is an integral part of regenerating Greenwich after years in which taxes have driven people and business away;
  • Expenditure on Greenwich’s education must remain at or above Standard Spending Assessment levels;
  • The Council must maintain financial reserves sufficient to meet unexpected spending demands. In practical terms, this means reserves of at least 2% of budgeted spending.

The application of these principles implies a fall in the real level of Greenwich Council Tax over the next four years.  In fact we expect savings to the Council Taxpayer of a minimum of £7.7 million per annum, or over £100 per band D household by the end of the period.

In addition, we will redirect resources to focus expenditure on priority areas which we believe to be under funded, including neighbourhood policing, graffiti removal and maintenance of the Borough’s stunning built heritage and parks and open spaces.

In the short term, we will achieve savings in the cost of managing the Council, the cost of absenteeism, the cost of collecting the Council Tax itself, the cost of Council propaganda and improve debt collection levels.

None of these savings implies a reduction in service levels for which the financial provision budgeted for 2006/07 would be maintained, thus assuring key Council department of stability.

For the Longer term, we will undertake a comprehensive review of the Council’s income and expenditure and seek, as the Government expects, continuing efficiency savings, particularly in the Council’s administration.

We will carry out a full scale review of services provided in house and seek to contract out to the voluntary and private sector wherever possible. We also expect to increase income from Council services by at least £3 million per annum. We are also determined to get the best financial deal possible from the government, of whatever political party, and are prepared to work with anyone, including our political opponents, to achieve that end.