By Tara O’Connor, Local Democracy Reporter
Croydon’s mayor said he can’t rule out council tax increasing by the new maximum of five per cent next year after changes announced in Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn statement.
It could see the average bill for households hit more than £2,000 a year for the first time in the borough.
In his Autumn statement, chancellor Jeremy Hunt said that from 2023 council tax can increase by up to five per cent without the need for a referendum.
Until now, local authorities have been only been able to increase council tax by three per cent without a referendum.
Croydon mayor Jason Perry said: “The reality with Croydon’s finances is that council tax will potentially go up to the maximum. We have still got £1.5 billion of debt and it is costing us £50 million a year to service that debt.”
However, Mr Perry stressed that a final decision on next year’s budget will be made in March. The council is expected to find out how much it will receive from central government next month.
He added: “We need to look at the whole picture, it is still very early for setting the budget next year. We won’t actually have our figures from the government until just before Christmas and over Christmas officers will be working on that.”
Chair of London Councils, Georgia Gould, said finances across the capital are in a “critical condition” with an estimated £700million shortfall estimated next year.
Councillor Gould said: “Council tax is not the answer to the inadequate funding we’re grappling with. Council tax rises during a cost-of-living crisis are extremely difficult for the struggling households we’re determined to support. But even if council tax goes up, it could never plug that £700m funding gap.
“Boroughs need proper investment from the government. Just as ministers worked in partnership with councils during the Covid-19 pandemic, we now require similar support in the face of the current economic emergency.”
A Croydon council spokesperson added: “We are still considering the implications of yesterday’s Autumn Statement for Croydon.”
Pictured top: Bernard Weatherill House, Croydon council offices (Picture: Tara O’Connor)