Waltham Forest Council plans to raise council tax by 3.99 per cent this year due to inflation and increased demand on services.

Band D properties will pay a little over £66 more a year after a 1.99 per cent hike in council tax and a 2 per cent precept ring-fenced for adult social care.

The 1.99 per cent rise in council tax, which funds around half of all services excluding schools, is the most the council can impose without holding a referendum.

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A report presented to the budget and performance scrutiny committee last night (February 13) stated: “Setting the council’s annual revenue budget has been a challenging process for a number of years.

“The council has in every year of the Government’s austerity programme delivered a balanced mid-term financial strategy against the backdrop of a growing population and an increase in the demand for services.

“If council tax does not keep pace with inflation, a spending gap naturally emerges which almost inevitably must be managed through spending and service reductions.”

The adult social care precept will raise £2.121 million this year, necessary given “the growth in demand” and the “absence of any new permanent funding” from central government.

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A business rates reset, expected to improve the council’s financial situation by around £4 million, was planned for April this year but has now been postponed to 2021.

The report notes that “any further delay will clearly be detrimental to the council and alternative savings or use of reserves may be required to bridge the resulting funding gap”.

Other challenges, such as reduction in government funding, decline in other income and rising costs, are “unlikely to change through to the end of the decade and beyond”.

The proposed budget will be discussed at a full council meeting on February 27.

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