Councillors rubber stamp 5.7% council tax increase

Residents in a Band-D property will pay £118.17 more per year from 1st April, reports Sebastian Mann, Local Democracy Reporter

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Waltham Forest residents will be paying more in council tax after councillors approved a 5.7% rate rise last week.

Residents in an average Band-D property in the borough will pay £118.17 more per year from 1st April.

The move means those residents will now pay a total of £2,173.72 this year, up from £2,055.55. The decision was approved at a full council meeting on Thursday (29th February).

Waltham Forest’s most senior finance officer Rob Manning previously said several “difficult” pressures have hit the council “at the same time” – including high interest rates, inflation and “unprecedented service demand”.

Conservative councillors said they would have frozen council tax for 2024/25, were they in control of the council.

Near the start of the Thursday meeting, Emma Best, the Conservative group leader, said: “[A council tax freeze] is the one thing we can do in a cost of living crisis that would reach everyone in this borough.

“If you look at the amount being raised and think it’s a nominal amount, then I can tell you you’ve never been in a family that has had to count every penny.”

The council tax hike was eventually approved, with 45 councillors in favour and all ten Conservatives voting against.

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Waltham Forest councillors later approved a 6% raise in their annual allowances, bringing the basic rate up to £12,766 a year.

Councillors additionally greenlit the first stage of the Local Plan, which will see 27,000 new homes built in the borough by 2035.

Ahsan Khan, cabinet member for housing and regeneration, said the approved Local Plan would “future-proof” Waltham Forest, adding: “If we don’t build enough homes in the borough, our young people will never be able to purchase their own home and we will never deliver enough affordable housing to meet the needs of the 6,000 people on our housing register.”

‘Affordable’ housing is a term used for homes sold at 80% of the market value, in a bid to help people get on the property leader.

Conservative councillor John Moss was critical of the proposed Local Plan, voting against it on the grounds it did not reflect residents’ historic concerns over high-rise developments in low-rise areas.

Councillors also approved ‘Mission Waltham Forest,’ a series of directives aimed at tackling inequality in the borough.

While officials said it would improve the lives of residents, it was criticised by Conservatives for having “no substance”.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article stated residents would have to pay £118.17 more per month, rather than per year. Apologies for any confusion caused.

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