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Council tax set to freeze as Sutton pledges more with less 9.02.10

Today (Tuesday 9 February) Sutton Council's Executive recommended no increase in council tax from April 2010.

Council tax set to freeze as Sutton pledges more with less - image shows coins

The level of council tax and the council's budget plans for 2010/11 will now be formally approved at a meeting of full council on 1 March.

With no increase in the portion of council tax going to the Mayor of London either, Sutton taxpayers would see no increase in their bills this April.

Following consultation with members of the public and key local figures, the budget sets out how the council will make £4.1m of savings next year by reducing costs and working more efficiently.

This will protect key front line services, in particular for the most vulnerable residents, and mean more money can be invested in priority areas.

The council will freeze social services charges for meals on wheels, home and day care, and the home alarm service to help vulnerable residents. Charges will also be frozen on parking to support local businesses.

The council has pledged to keep costs down by working even more closely with neighbouring boroughs, the police and the NHS, as well as residents and businesses.

Despite the 0% increase, the council is still investing almost £72m on capital projects in the borough. This spending includes £9.4m for improvements to social housing, including the first tranche of money under the Decent Homes programme,?the redevelopment of Durand Close and building more primary school classes.

Cllr Sean Brennan, Leader of Sutton Council, said:

"These budget proposals make sure that people do not have to pay more at a time they can least afford to.

"Over the last four years the council has made savings of over £20m, nearly all from working more efficiently. These changes to how we work mean we are now in a position to freeze council tax bills and still protect the services our residents need most.

"While the private sector is now recovering, the recession is starting to have a real impact on the public sector. We expect severe budget cuts from central government in the years ahead and so we will have to make tough choices.

"We will meet this challenge by making sure that we focus spending on the areas that matter most to our residents, being even more efficient and working with our partners to deliver excellent services at a lower cost.

"We feel a council tax freeze is the right decision in a difficult year. Despite greater demand for our services during the recession and a fall in income, we have worked hard on the finances to stop residents from having to pay more.

"Our residents confirmed that this was the right approach when we talked to them about our budget proposals before Christmas. People want us to drive down costs but protect frontline services. This budget will meet those demands."

Among the £4.1m of savings identified in the proposed budget, the council will save over £250,000 in changes to waste collection routes as a direct result of residents recycling more. A further £150,000 will be saved next year by sharing a human resources service with the London Borough of Merton.

Negotiations with care providers will save a further £450,000 in adult social services alone, while ensuring no change in the levels of care provided.

These efficiencies mean that in 2010/11 the council can spend an additional £150,000 on protecting vulnerable adults and a further £144,000 to meet the needs of people living longer.

£410,000 of new money will pay for more social workers to work with children with protection plans and an additional £300,000 will pay for transporting the growing number of children with special educational needs to and from school.

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The almost £72m capital programme includes over £1m to be spent in the coming?year on completing the £4.3mn?new facility for adults with learning disabilities at Anton Crescent.? This new centre is part of a wider scheme to re-house former patients at Orchard Hill Hospital in the community. A further £708,000 of funding will go to the borough's local committees for residents to spend on projects in their neighbourhoods, for example on playgrounds, parks and facilities for young people.

Last updated: Monday, 12 April 2010

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