This week the government announced that it is granting Croydon permission to raise council tax above the national limit to address our serious financial challenges.
I know this is difficult news for our residents, who are rightly angry and frustrated that we are footing the bill for past financial failures.
Proposing a council tax increase is the last thing that I want to do, particularly when local people are already facing cost of living pressures.
But the reality is that the previous administration has left the council in such financial dire straits that without the increase, we would have to make a further £20m of savings next year, on top of the £36m already put forward.
That would mean more cuts – this time to vital services.
Croydon simply cannot keep kicking tough decisions down the line. That’s why the council is now burdened with £1.6bn of toxic debt.
We have to tackle these problems and rebuild Croydon as a sustainable council so that it can deliver the essential services that we all need.
The proposal to increase council tax is just one part of a significant support package I have requested from government to help Croydon get back on track – including writing off some of the council’s debt.
We’re also proposing protection for low-income households through the council tax support scheme, as well as a new hardship fund for residents who are struggling, with more details to follow.
These measures, together with our work to continue to transform Croydon into a smaller, more efficient council, are tough but necessary steps to get us back on track and restore pride in our borough.
Race Equality Week
Part of rebuilding our council is changing our culture and during Race Equality Week (6-12 February) we’ve renewed our commitment to becoming an anti-racist organisation. This included taking part in the Big Promise campaign.
My Big Promise is to continue working with our amazing communities here in Croydon, learning and understanding what makes us different, and recognising that those differences are also what makes us great.
Turkey and Syria
Finally, I know residents will share my deep sadness at the devastating humanitarian crisis caused by the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. My thoughts are with all those affected and our communities here in Croydon who have loved ones in those countries.
If you are able to, you can support the aid effort by donating to the Disasters Emergency Committee – their charities are among the first responders and working with local partners to provide shelter, food and medical supplies to those in need. Visit the Disasters Emergency Committee website for the Turkey-Syria Earthquake appeal or Croydon Refugee and New Communities Forum are collecting non-monetary donations at Rosa Parked Cafe, 161 London Road, West Croydon.
Executive Mayor of Croydon