Barking and Dagenham Council discuss council tax hike

Barking and Dagenham residents are being readied for a council tax hike under new plans being considered by the council.

The local authority is considering upping its council tax by 3 per cent for residents and an extra 2 per cent for social care amid the cost of living crisis.

Plans have been revealed ahead of today’s cabinet meeting [December 13], where Barking and Dagenham councillors will discuss plans to increase the borough’s council tax.

Philip Gregory, strategic director for finance and investment and author of the report, said the council’s finances have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, cuts from central government funding and a growing population.

He said: “The financial scarring effects of the pandemic will continue to impact demand for services and income due to the council for many years to come.

“Whilst the council is not alone in facing these challenges this does not lessen the scale of the challenge and the impact on the residents and businesses within the borough.”

Mr Gregory added the council needs to find savings of £14.6m from 2023/24 onwards due to the financial squeeze it felt at the beginning of the pandemic.

He said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound and unprecedented impact on the activity and finances of the council since March 2020 and this is likely to continue throughout 2021-22 and beyond into the medium term.

“The pandemic has resulted in three major financial effects on the council’s financial position: additional costs, income loss and agreed savings at risk.”

The total council tax Barking and Dagenham residents living in the top bands for 2022-2023 will pay is currently displayed on the council’s website; £1,189.89 [A], £1,388.20 [B], £1,586.52 [C] and £1,784.83 [D].

Mr Gregory warned the council must include “radical changes” in its budget, which will be approved by the assembly in spring 2023.

He said: “This position exemplifies the issues facing local government where funding is reducing and demand for services and statutory requirements continue to grow.

“The budget presented for approval in spring 2023 will need to include radical changes to service delivery in order to set a balanced budget with no funding gap. It is a legal requirement to set a balanced budget.”

Ruby Gregory

Local Democracy Reporter