Victory for Kingston
How lobbying can work for the benefits of residents
Since the late 1990's, when John Prescott was in charge of local government, Kingston has got a bum deal from central Government when it comes to the grant settlement.
Every year, the Kingston Council Leader has gone through the motions of lobbying Government for a change in the settlement, but it has never had an effect and Government has never reopened the coffers to help put right the injustice and help Kingston. It was unsurprising that this was the case when there was a Labour Government and a Lib Dem Council, but it didn't improve when the Lib Dems were in Government and the Lib Dems still ran the Council.
This week, that all changed. Following numerous meetings with the Secretary of State with both myself and our MPs, as well as a co-ordinated approach across outer London, we have had the first ever change to the local government settlement after it is announced. This change commits to transitional funding to help us ease the Council Tax burden for this year, but also undertakes to review the funding formula as we move to the devolution of business rates to local authorities - something we have also been campaigning on since 2014.
Finally, Kingston has a Conservative Council, working with two excellent Conservative MPs who have together convinced the Conservative Government that we need a better deal. Maybe London needs to be awake to the positive effect a Conservative Mayor can have when we have a Conservative Government working in the interests of residents and business.
What does it mean for Council Tax this year
We have managed to secure additional funding and that we will no longer need to increase the Council Tax from where it is today, other than the 2% levy the Government has introduced to cover adult social care. Even that will be reduced in cash terms to about 0.5% by the Olympics no longer having to be paid for as part of the Mayoral settlement.
The press release the Council has sent out can be seen here.