Richmond Council has announced plans to increase council tax in a bid to protect the borough's services.

With continuing concerns over Government underfunding of Special Educational Needs costs and ongoing pressure on core services, the council has proposed to raise the tax by 1.80 per cent.

Despite an increase in Council Tax - the amount is still to be below the maximum permitted by Government and is also in line with forecasts of consumer inflation between 2020 and 2021.

Cllr Robin Brown, said: “Our support from central government has been slashed by over £40 million since 2010 and between 2018, and 2019, the general grant received has been zero.

"Whilst increased grant funding for specific services was welcome this year, it doesn’t go far enough given previous cuts and continued underfunding of SEND.

"Richmond continues to be one of the lowest funded Councils in London - forcing us to rely on residents’ Council Tax to cover an increasingly higher share of service costs.

“This administration has always said it would be open and honest with you about the difficult financial choices the local authority faces.

"We are determined to manage the Council’s finances responsibly for the longer term and face considerable uncertainty about our funding for the future."

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

Image credited to Richmond Council.

There will also be a two per cent increase in the precept for Adult Social Care, as allowed under government funding plans.

These services are dealing with an ageing population and people requiring increasingly complex care support.

The announcements are in the lead up to the Finance, Policy and Resources Committee, which is due to review the Council’s proposed 2020/21 Budget and Council Tax setting on February 20.

Richmond is having to provide funding against the shortfall to protect vital services.

This has resulted in a projected £15 million funding gap by the end of the year and, Richmond fears the gap will continue to grow and threaten the Council’s finances and the services.

However, Richmond is committed to delivering fairer finance deals for residents.

It has abolished the requirement for residents on low-incomes to pay 15 per cent council tax, scrapped the charge to store possessions for those made homeless and signing up to the Living Wage Foundation.

There is even a new charity – the Richmond Upon Thames Voluntary Fund, which enables residents to contribute to supporting vulnerable residents.

The 2020 to 2021 budget has been designed to include:

• Children’s and Adults Social Care services

• Delivery of the Council’s Climate Emergency Strategy

• Doubling the frequency of emptying the public recycling bins

• Additional staffing to strengthen the homelessness prevention teams

The capital program reflects the Council’s commitment to increase affordable housing provision, improve highways and pavements and deliver the Climate Emergency Strategy.

The Council’s drive to improve efficiency continues with a further £4m of benefits included in this year’s budget to help fund the required investments.

Following a review by the Finance, Policy and Resources Committee, the proposals will be reviewed by Full Council on the 3rd March 2020.