So you can cut taxes and boost services

The following press release has just been sent out by Conservative run Hammersmith and Fulham Council in London:

Council tax to fall by 3% — third year in a row

COUNCIL tax bills are set to tumble by three per cent for the THIRD year in a row at Hammersmith & Fulham Council as a major help to residents suffering as a result of the credit crunch.

After three years of tax cuts residents in H&F are expected to be £175 better off compared to the average London borough — a major help when residents are struggling with the cost of living.

While cutting tax, the Council is improving services AND cutting debt. More than £13 million of red tape is being cut in 2009/10 by reducing staff numbers, office space and making better use of IT.

The news comes as the Government today announces its Revenue Support Grant settlement (RSG) which sets out central government funding for local authorities in 2009/10. The level of funding is a major factor in determining council tax bills next year.

Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, H&F Council Leader, said it is up to councils like H&F to offer the best possible services at the lowest possible cost. H&F has received the highest rating of four stars from the Audit Commission for the quality of our services while resident satisfaction has increased nine per cent in the last year… to one of the highest levels in London.

While reducing bills, the Council is:

* Improving schools, with £200 million worth of investment through Building Schools for the Future
* Putting more bobbies on the beat by spending £750,000 on extra police in town centres following the ground-breaking 18-month pilot for 24/7 neighbourhood police in Fulham Broadway and Shepherds Bush Green.
* Improving parks to the tune of £6.3 million on parks and open spaces, including £3 million for London’s iconic Shepherds Bush Green
* Retaining weekly bin collections, while having a single recycling and refuse collection on the same day to make it easier for residents

Meanwhile the Council is:

* Reducing our headcount and agency bills – Staff numbers have fallen by 566 through efficiency measures and agency spend has tumbled from £24 million in 2005/6 to £21 million in 2007/8
* Cutting our debt by nearly £20 million, producing annual savings in borrowing costs of around £1.7 million a year
* Market testing £90 million of services, producing savings of £1.3 million in 2008/9
* Promoting smarter working – cutting accommodation costs is saving £1.1 million
* Improving customer access while saving money – for example by allowing people to renew parking permits online. Overall the council’s award winning Customer Access Strategy has delivered £4 million in savings while substantially improving our service to customers.

Councillor Greenhalgh continues: “At a time of great financial uncertainty for many families we are once again taking the lead in Britain by cutting council tax for the third year in a row. It essential councils like ours do all we can to help hard working families struggling to make ends meet, whilst ensuring we still deliver quality services.

“At the same time we are providing quality local services that people expect, spending money on things that matter. We are improving schools, cutting crime and making our parks better. We are retaining weekly bin collections while making it easier for residents by ensuring that refuse, recycling and street cleaning happen on the same day.

“This is a commonsense council that is leading the way in delivering quality services at the lowest possible cost. Our tax cuts are affordable and do not increase our debt burden. Instead we are cutting debt. I invite politicians of all parties to come to Hammersmith to see how it is done.”

Other examples of cutting bureaucracy over the last two years include:

* Cutting communication costs by £300,000 to the lowest levels in London
* Cutting personal advisers to Cabinet Members – at an immediate saving of over £300,000 a year.

Councillor Greenhalgh concluded: “This shows once and for all that you can reduce the tax burden on residents while improving the way the council runs vital services.”


  1. jean baker
    November 26, 2008

    Councils are at the total mercy of the sum allocated by government. Nulabor looks after 'it's own' first and foremost –
    Conservative/other party run Councils historically receive considerably less. Hammersmith & Fulham has few on state benefits who pay nothing for services.

    1. Mark Loveday
      November 26, 2008


      I'm sorry, but you must be joking.

      Hammersmith is an inner city borough. It may have pockets of prosperity, but it is also one of the most deprived parts of the UK. I don't have figures for benefit claimants to hand, but the 2007 English Indeces of Deprivation (which measure absolute poverty according to such factors as benefit claimants and lack of basic housing facilities, health etc) rank Hammersmith as the 38th most deprived authority in England (out of 349).

      Council Tax cuts in our area will disproportionately help those in lower and middle incomes and that is what is needed.

      1. jean baker
        November 27, 2008

        Figures do not support your claim; the allocation of Council funding is disproportionate and favourable to labour run councils.
        This is the reason why funding is reduced alongside rising populations in certain areas according to government diktat.

  2. Lola
    November 26, 2008

    Under capitalism private business does more for less every day. Why doesn't this apply to government? H&F show it can.

    1. jean baker
      November 26, 2008

      H & F is not a taxpayer funded PFI; it's a manager of 'stealth tax'. Private business – non-government affiliated – continues to face rising energy costs and NI contributions.

      H & F has extraordinarily high income – the tool for negotiating 'savings deals'.

  3. Jonathan Cook
    November 26, 2008

    If you scaled the numbers up appropriately – as a finger in the air estimate – I wonder if you could use this data to roughly simulate what could be achieved across the UK at central government level?

    1. jean baker
      November 26, 2008

      Massive reductions are guaranteed at central government level with the ousting of Nulabor's vision' of 'closed shop unionist' State control. To this end it employs over 5 million at a cost of around £261 bn a year along with £80 bn a year cost for thousands of 'self serving' money wasting 'quangos'.

      The costs of running a government based on the principles of democracy will yield massive savings halting 'black hole' borrowings against taxpayers used to fund 'champagne socialists'.

  4. Donitz
    November 26, 2008


    The following post is nothing to do with todays blog but if you read it, it might give you an idea for a future blog on the "nanny state".

    1940's, 50's, 60's and 70's !

    First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us and lived in houses made of asbestos.
    They took aspirin, ate blue cheese, raw egg products, loads of bacon and processed meat, tuna from a can, and didn't get tested for diabetes or cervical cancer.

    Then after that trauma, our baby cots were covered with bright coloured lead-based paints.

    We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets or shoes, not to mention, the risks we took hitchhiking.

    As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags.

    We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.

    Take away food was limited to fish and chips, no pizza shops, McDonalds, KFC, Subway or Nandos.

    Even though all the shops closed at 6.00pm and didn't open on the weekends, somehow we didn't starve to death!

    We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.

    We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank soft drinks with sugar in it, but we weren't overweight because……


    We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.

    No one was able to reach us all day. And we were O.K.

    We would spend hours building our go-carts out of old prams and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. We built tree houses and dens and played in river beds with matchbox cars.

    We did not have Playstations, Nintendo Wii, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 999 channels on SKY,
    no video/dvd films, no mobile phones, no personal computers, no Internet or Internet chat rooms……….WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!

    We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no Lawsuits from these accidents.

    Only girls had pierced ears!

    We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.

    You could only buy Easter Eggs and Hot Cross Buns at Easter time…

    We were given air guns and catapults for our 10th birthdays,

    We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just yelled for them!

    Mum didn't have to go to work to help dad make ends meet!

    RUGBY and CRICKET had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!! Getting into the team was based on


    Our teachers used to hit us with canes and gym shoes and bully's always ruled the playground at school.

    The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of.
    They actually sided with the law!

    Our parents didn't invent stupid names for their kids like 'Kiora' and 'Blade' and 'Ridge' and 'Vanilla'

    We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!

    And YOU are one of them! CONGRATULATIONS!

    You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated our lives for our own good.

    And while you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave their parents were.

    1. James
      November 27, 2008

      And perhaps you could add that most of us lived within our means.
      We saved up to buy 'bigger ticket' items and and thus gained more pleasure from them. And they lasted longer!

    2. Stuart Fairney
      December 4, 2008

      I agree with most of this but as I know him, (he was indeed, my best man) I can confirm Donitz has no friends!

  5. mikestallard
    November 26, 2008

    We need loads more stories like this. Our Council at Cambridgeshire, though woeful at Comprehensive Education, is otherwise jolly good too, I reckon.

  6. Johnny Norfolk
    November 27, 2008

    My father used to tell me its not just what you earn in life, its what you spend that counts.

    Its basics like this that Labour have and never will understand.

    The problems that we now have, with no reduction in government spending is just beyond belief.

    Labour can only spend, never earn.

  7. Lola
    November 28, 2008

    Thinking about it perhaps your headline should read: 'So Cutting taxes WILL boost services'

Comments are closed.