Westminster City Council is to ask its wealthiest residents to pay double their usual amount of council tax.
While the council intends to freeze regular council tax in 2018-19, its social care precept is set to rise by 2%.
Band H households are due to pay £833 per property in council tax to Westminster in 2018-19 although that rises to about £1,400 when the Greater London Authority contribution is added. In a statement Westminster said “any voluntary amount would be up to the contributor should they choose to take part”.
In a report due to go before cabinet next Monday it says all Band H properties were consulted on the introduction of a ‘Westminster Community Contribution’ which will “support discretionary services that would otherwise not be funded without increasing the level of council tax for all residents”.
The paper added: “Residents of Band H properties were consulted and there was a strong showing of support for the scheme and the council proposes to now proceed with the voluntary contribution scheme. The scheme will be entirely voluntary and there will be no obligation on anyone to pay.”
The council statement said “more than 400 people responded positively to the survey saying they would support the scheme”.
Any money raised will be spent on youth clubs, extra support for rough sleepers, and services aimed at helping to tackle isolation and loneliness among not just the elderly but all age groups.
However, Nickie Aiken (Con), Westminster’s leader, said: “The law does not allow us to raise council tax for just one band. If we raise council tax we must do so for everyone – from the lowest to the highest bands. The voluntary Westminster Community Contribution offers a fair way for those who want to contribute more to do so.
“Back in October 2017, I decided to act on a growing number of requests from some residents who live in the highest valued homes that they wanted to voluntarily contribute more than their existing council tax. I am delighted that so many people want to support the initiative in its first year.
“The outcome of our consultation reflects the kind and generous spirit of Westminster residents. It also confirmed what I had heard from people I had met on the doorstep that those in the more expensive homes are willing to contribute more to community projects. The scheme is most popular among residents of the most expensive homes.”
The initiative also has the backing of the Archbishop of York who has campaigned for a national voluntary “top up”. John Sentamu said: “I congratulate Westminster council for inviting wealthier taxpayers to top up a voluntary community contribution for local services. I fully endorse their imaginative initiative. May all of us who are willing to do this be given the facility to do so.”