Islington finance chief can’t rule out Council Tax rise

Islington Council’s finance chief refused to rule out a Council Tax rise as he outlined the budget for 2012/13.

Next year, Islington will have to make a �18million in cuts on top of the �52million made this year, and one way to ease the burden would be to raise council tax.

The government has offered them a �2million grant to stop the increase but, because council rates can only go up by 3.5 per cent a year, taking this money would limit how much cash could be raised the following year.

If Council Tax goes up in 2012, the council would be free to increase it by a further 3.5 per cent in 2013 if necessary.

If the coalition won’t guarantee funding beyond 2012, Town Hall may turn down the cash and bump up Council Tax. But officials won’t find out until the end of January, just days before the budget has to be finalised.

Cllr Richard Greening, Islington Council’s executive member for finance, said: “Obviously we would like to take the money, but we have to think about the consequences for 2013/14, not just for next year.

“The government may continue to offer the money year on year but there comes a point when you have to say no because there is a limit to how much we can absorb. We don’t want to have to make up a �2.2million shortfall next year.

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“We are asking the government to commit to the grant for four years.”

Despite having to slash the budget by almost �20million, the council are committed to ensuring all children’s centre’s stay and libraries stay open.

Around �12million will be saved in efficiencies, and �4.5million by joining services with other boroughs and getting a better deal from suppliers.

In addition, a further 140 council jobs will go but the impact of this will be reduced with 66 voluntary redundancies and 32 posts being kept open.