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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Rachael Burford

London sees highest and lowest council tax rises in England as five more boroughs hike bills above £2k

London is expected to see the highest and lowest council tax increases in the country this year, analysis revealed on Tuesday.

While Croydon residents will be hit by a record 15 per cent rise in bills, those in Tower Hamlets and Westminster will see their payments go up by just two per cent.

The majority of Londoners face a five per cent hike in their council tax from April, as town halls seek to balance their books.

Five more boroughs — Havering, Sutton, Waltham Forest, Croydon and Bexley — are expected to see average annual bills go above £2,000 for the first time when local authority budgets are finalised next month.

They join Harrow and Richmond, which hit the milestone figure last year, and Kingston.

Three-quarters of English councils with social care duties are planning the maximum increase allowed by the Government without a resident referendum.

The average annual council tax bill for a Band D property in England for 2022/23 was £1,966, meaning a 5 per cent rise will add £98 a year from April.

But bankrupt Croydon has been given special permission to increase payments by 15 per cent as it seeks to plug its £1.6 billion debt.

It will add around £235 to the average household’s bill, and comes on top of the almost £40 hike by Sadiq Khan for City Hall’s share.

Thurrock and Slough also had requests approved to increase council tax by 10 per cent without a referendum as part of the final local government finance settlement.

Despite being home to some of the most expensive properties in the UK, Westminster has the lowest council tax in the country. In April it will increase by just two per cent, meaning Band D homes paying around £920 a year — less than half the England average.

The council’s Labour leader Adam Hug said: “We are acutely aware that any increase in the council tax disproportionately affects those on the lowest incomes.

“Through careful financial management, new income generation and cost savings of our own the council is able to continue to cap the main rate of council tax at this challenging time for families.”

Tower Hamlets is set to take tens of millions out of reserves to keep council tax bills down and pay for a cost-of-living support package.

The independent-run borough will add just a 2 per cent social care allowance.

The east London town hall plans to spend £3.7million expanding its free school meal programme to secondary school children, £500,000 on educational maintenance allowance and £600,000 on university bursaries.

A spokesman for mayor Lutfur Rahman said it will help residents through the cost of living crisis.

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