Civic centre freezing core council tax – but bills will still rise

Average annual council tax bill in Enfield will rise by £46.24, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Enfield Civic Centre and (inset) Mary Maguire, cabinet member for finance
Enfield Civic Centre and (inset) Mary Maguire, cabinet member for finance

Enfield Council is set to freeze core council tax during the upcoming financial year to “help with the cost of living crisis”.

The civic centre is planning to avoid increasing its central share of the bill for the first time in six years, but will still increase a council tax precept designed to support adult social care by 1%.

Cabinet member for finance Mary Maguire said the freeze was possible thanks to “good budget management” over previous years that had allowed the council to build up a “strong level of reserves”.

Despite the freeze, average Band D bills are still set to rise by 89p per week – or £46.24 per year – as a result of the increase in the social care levy, plus a planned 8.8% hike in the Greater London Authority’s council tax precept used to fund City Hall services.

The budget plans were outlined in a report presented to a cabinet meeting on Wednesday. Addressing the meeting, Cllr Maguire said: “In setting our balanced budget this year, we have been mindful of the fact that residents are now in the grip of a cost of living crisis.

“There has been a hike in National Insurance, there is an anticipated leap in energy prices, Bank of England interest rate rises, rising inflation, and the continuing uncertainty around Covid and its impact on local businesses and economic recovery.

“We are doing what we can to help residents in this budget, so we have decided to recommend a freeze on core council tax.”

The budget report reveals the council plans to make £5.9million in savings and raise £2.8m in extra income in 2022/23. On top of this, the authority will use £2m from its reserves to balance its books.

Next year, the council’s budget gap is forecast to be £13.3m, meaning officers will look to develop new savings proposals “as soon as possible”.

Council leader Nesil Caliskan said the budget was designed to protect the most vulnerable residents in the borough, with investment of around £4m earmarked for children’s services and £5m for adults’ services.

Deputy leader Ian Barnes said he believed the budget was the council’s “greenest” ever and would help to improve the borough’s resilience to climate change, with new wetlands under development, 1,000 new urban street trees due to be planted, and extra money for “more cycle lanes and more quieter neighbourhoods”.

Cabinet members agreed the proposed budget, which will now be sent to full council to be formally ratified during a meeting scheduled for Thursday, 24th February.

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