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ALG ASKS CURRY TO HOLD BACK ON EXTRA COUNCIL TAX RISES

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Council tax bills in inner London could rise by one fifth and those in outer London by 15% if government changes to...
Council tax bills in inner London could rise by one fifth and those in outer London by 15% if government changes to funding for local councils go ahead later this month, says the Association of London Government.

ALG leaders met local government minister David Curry yesterday to raise their concern about the changes and the huge effect it will have on Londoners.

Increases in the amount of tax that has to be raised locally through the council will lead to an estimated 7% rise according to the government's own figures.

In addition, changes to how the spending allowance and grants are calculated could mean a further 13% hike in inner London boroughs and 8% in outer London boroughs according to ALG estimates. Londoners could be hit doubly hard - having to pay more while seeing big cuts that could result in the decimation of children's services in London.

An all-party delegation including ALG chair Toby Harris, Graham Tope and cllr Edward Lister met the minister yesterday afternoon to put the ALG's concerns:

-- the government's strategy to keep reducing the amount of central government funding will hit London councils hardest; the ALG is asking the government to confirm the increase in council tax which will be forced upon London as a result of this cut in funding from central government

-- across London £150m could be lost in spending on children's social services if possible government changes go ahead; the ALG is asking the government to scrap the changes, or at least delay them so that further work can be done to develop a more realistic model, or services for children in the capital will be devastated

-- inclusion of attendance allowance data in spending assessments for elderly people in residential homes will skew funding away from inner London ever more; the ALG is asking for an explanation of how this is being calculated and for it be left out of spending calculations while the date remains questionable

-- possible changes to spending assessments for additional education needs will hit inner London boroughs hardest as it will come on top of reductions to education spending allowances for this year

'The government has admitted that it plans to raise about 7% more tax locally through council tax,' said ALG chair Toby Harris. 'This combined with other changes could mean a huge rise in council tax for Londoners while services will have to be cut.

'Much of the data the government is basing its changes on has been discredited. We are asking the minister to think again and not alter the system until there is well researched data that can lead to fairer allocations. Otherwise Londoners could face big increases in their bills while seeing some services, such as those to help children in need and at risk, decimated.'

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