Hounslow Council Leader prepares for tough budget setting as council finances remain under pressure

Leader of the Council’s response to the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement

Published: Thursday, 21st December 2023

Cllr Shantanu Rajawat

The Leader of the Council, Councillor Shantanu Rajawat has outlined that the Council will need to make tough decisions to produce a balanced budget that continues to provide vital services and the ambitious vision for the borough.  

The statement is in response to the proposed funding deal for local authorities announced by the Government on 18 December 2023.   

Commenting on the settlement Cllr Rajawat, said:  

“It’s deeply disappointing that the Government has failed to recognise the ongoing strain and increasing demand on council services with the 2024/25 settlement. 

“Chronic underfunding for the last 10 years has seen our budgets and services stretched and squeezed. Despite urgent calls to address the skyrocketing costs and financial distress every borough is experiencing, they have failed to listen or recognise the damage done by a wave of reckless policies which have caused a crisis in health, social care, the asylum system and temporary accommodation.  

“With rising costs pinching households every penny, Hounslow, like many local authorities, have been shouldering the responsibility to provide the additional support residents need.  

“Sadly, the proposed local government funding settlement is calculated on the assumption that London Boroughs will put up council tax by a maximum of 4.99%, which provides more than half of the additional funding in Hounslow’s settlement. If this proposal goes ahead, we will face the stark choice of either putting up council tax or having a significant budget shortfall. Once again, the Government is placing further strain on hard-pressed citizens.  

“The current system of funding for local government is simply unsustainable and requires a fundamental review giving boroughs more ownership over their budgets and futures, with less reliance on Council Tax. 

 “While many local authorities are on the verge of bankruptcy, I can assure residents that we are not in this position thanks to many years of prudent financial management. However, the stark reality of rising costs and demand means we are having to think carefully about the services we provide and how we deliver them.  

“We will continue to work efficiently, keep our costs down and make sure we use our money wisely, delivering services that make a real difference to residents’ lives.  

The provisional local government finance settlement 2024/25 was published by the Department for Levelling up, Housing and Communities on 18 December 2023 and can be read in full online.   

Cllr Rajawat was also interviewed on BBC Radio London Breakfast show in response to the settlement and the impact for the borough and rest of the capital. If you missed it listen here from 10:47

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