A guide to your Council Tax
Message from the Leader of Southwark Council
Over the last year we have worked non-stop to support everyone in our community through this pandemic, especially those who are most vulnerable. To do that we have stretched the money we spend on your behalf further than ever before. We’ve stepped up new and additional support for tens of thousands of residents and businesses, whilst also working hard to keep essential day-to-day services running, that everyone in our borough depends on.
At the start of the pandemic we called over 20,000 older and more vulnerable residents to make sure they had the support they needed to get through lockdown. We arranged food deliveries, helped with prescriptions and bills, made regular welfare calls and gave befriending support for those who needed it. To ensure that support is available in Southwark we have provided over £1.2m to local community groups. It has been truly inspiring to see the support those groups have provided with this funding, matched with the incredible contribution of thousands of volunteers across our community.
During a year where we have all had to stay at home, we have made sure every resident has a home. We helped over 700 people who would have slept on the streets to move into long-term accommodation. This is nearly a quarter of all rough sleepers helped by councils across London during this pandemic. We have also continued to build new council homes, with over 1,400 delivered or in progress since 2010, including Britain’s largest new council house building site now underway on the Aylesbury Estate.
We have worked with our schools to try and ensure no Southwark child goes hungry, funding free school meals for all eligible children during the holidays. This builds on our long-standing commitment to provide free healthy school meals to every primary school child in Southwark during term time. During the latest lockdown we worked with the Southwark Teaching Schools Alliance to help to ensure every Southwark child has the IT equipment they need to learn from home, allocating £250,000 from the council towards our Laptops for Learning appeal. I am delighted to say that has been matched by over £99,000 in donations from local residents and businesses.
We have supported local businesses forced to close with rate relief of £88.8m and distributed grants totalling £89.9m, helping to protect thousands of jobs across our borough. This includes grants to local businesses excluded from central government support.
The pandemic has hit local government finances hard. While our costs have increased by £57m, we have also seen our income decline significantly – by £43m – in the last twelve months alone. This follows on from a decade of austerity, with our funding from central government reduced by 63p in every pound since 2010. Therefore, like all other councils in London, we have had to make a difficult decision on Council Tax. In Southwark the increase this year will be 4.99%. On average this means an increase of 95p a week for residents in band A to C properties.
While we respond to the current situation, we are also looking beyond the pandemic. We will continue to invest in our future to ensure that no one is left behind. We will create hundreds of apprenticeships and paid internships, on top of the 3,000 already created since 2014, as part of our guarantee to ensure every school leaver has access to education, employment or training. We’re also working with local businesses to broaden the range of opportunities available to young people in Southwark.
We can only create a better future if we protect our planet. That is why we will keep the climate emergency at the forefront of every decision we make. We have committed to plant 10,000 new trees across our borough, double the number of cycle hangars, create 60 new school streets, and divest council funds from fossil fuels. We have also ensured all council buildings use 100% renewable electricity and have reduced our own emissions by 25%. We know there is much more to do and this year we will launch our climate emergency strategy, setting out a pathway to a carbon-neutral borough by 2030.
The last 12 months have been the most difficult our community has faced in a generation. I am so proud of how our borough has pulled together. I am continually amazed by the dedication and determination of our residents who have stepped up to help out in their communities. Thankfully, the fast rollout of the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine means there is now light at the end of the tunnel.
I look forward to working with you, towards a better and fairer future for everyone in Southwark.
Cllr Kieron Williams
Leader of Southwark Council
Page last updated: 02 March 2021