Council tax bills 2022/23 - introduction from the Leader

Dear resident,

When I am out and about in Royal Greenwich, one thing is abundantly clear. The cost-of-living crisis is real and affecting residents all across the borough. We are all feeling the pinch of rising energy bills, food and housing costs, and a rise in national insurance that will hit working families from April onwards too. I want to be clear that these policies were not set by the Council but we are doing what we can to support residents across the borough at this difficult time.

For the last two years we have been supporting thousands of residents on the lowest incomes, including the elderly, and those claiming benefits to reduce their council tax - thanks to the decisions we have taken in the Town Hall, we are supporting thousands of residents directly. Some of those residents who are working age taxpayers will also qualify for a further COVID hardship reduction which for 2022/23 will mean that council tax bill reductions of up to £175 will be possible.

We are also going to introduce a new 100 per cent council tax discount for our foster and Shared Lives carers to reward them for the invaluable role they play in caring for our looked after children and adults. If you would like to consider becoming a foster carer for us, please get in touch.

We have seen an increase in residents seeking support to meet basic needs, with the lowest income families affected the most. We have given more than 17,000 meals out to hungry children during the school holidays and the local food bank has distributed more than 64,000kg of food since last April. A truly staggering amount.

The pandemic has shown how vital council services are to our communities and I am extremely proud of the work we have done together to support communities across Royal Greenwich. Since it began, we have risen to all the unprecedented challenges it has thrown at us, while we worked to keep residents safe and services running.

From the get-go we launched a Community Hub that has helped thousands of residents; rolled out a massive vaccination programme, including mass vaccination events at The Valley; supported our schools and pupils, distributed support grants to thousands of residents and businesses, plus much more besides. We are now focused on the challenging task of rebuilding an even better Royal Greenwich, and I would encourage everyone to have their say through The Big Conversation consultation at royalgreenwich.gov.uk/thebigconversation.

We have been listening to your concerns about crime, youth and gender-based violence. Making sure residents feel safe in the borough is our top priority. We work closely with our partners including the Police, we have invested £3.7million in digital CCTV cameras; and we are also tackling the cultural and societal changes needed to address the root causes of gender-based violence through specialised education programmes aimed at men and boys. We want to ensure we maintain and strengthen our services much as we can. However, we have had to make some extremely tough decisions as we balance the Council’s annual budget.

Yet again, the Government has only awarded us a one-year settlement for 2022/23 - instead of a three or four-year scheme, which would allow us to financially plan properly for the future.

The Government’s funding for councils is also based on its assumption that we will increase council tax by the maximum amount and pass the rising costs of adult social care on to our residents. This follows 11 years of relentless government cuts, increasing

demand for our services, rising inflation, and not being awarded the funding we need to help our communities prosper. I continue to make the case that the ‘levelling up’ agenda is as important in Royal Greenwich as it is elsewhere and we will continue to fight for the resources we need here.

Due to this we have no other option but to increase council tax by £1.35 per week for a band D property. Whilst we recognise that this is a lot of money for many our prudent financial management means it is at least £200 less than neighbouring Bexley. For more information on council tax support scheme visit royalgreenwich.gov.uk/counciltaxsupport.

You can also find advice and information on a range of benefits and other forms of financial help at royalgreenwich.gov.uk/benefits.

As always, we’re really keen to hear your views will help us build a fairer Royal Greenwich – sign up to our email to find out at about all our consultations at royalgreenwich.gov.uk/newsletter.

Lastly, I want to thank all residents for the part they have played to keep Royal Greenwich and their loved ones safe over the last two very difficult years. I look forward to what this year will bring.

Cllr Danny Thorpe Leader,

Royal Borough of Greenwich