I see people are astonished at the service charges on One Hyde Park apartment at £55,000 a year from the response in the letter pages ( FT Weekend Sept 12 ). It makes me wonder, if residents are prepared to pay those kind of amounts for service charges maybe they will be prepared to pay a lot more council taxes as well?
In local tax terms, these apartments would have come under Band H in the City of Westminster, where the Council Tax charge for the 2020/21 year will have been just £1,560.53. That is a staggering 35 times more is spent on paying for their servicing than contributing to the local taxes of councils for their public services across London and the City of Westminster.
The previous leader of the Council tried to get them to increase their council tax contributions voluntarily but this only raised just over £400,000. This when the council aimed to raise £2.75 million from the £10 million plus homes in the borough, and wrote to over 15,000 homes for an extra £833 a year. In the end only 500 properties made the additional voluntary contribution. So clearly the council could only go so far as the present legislation permitted them.
In light of the state of the local government finances in London in response to COVID19 crisis and austerity anyway, it is not time councils have the powers to raise larger council taxes receipts from such properties. This critically needs to be put in place for the next financial year 2021/22 to not only help the finances of London government but more importantly fund the public services that all Londoners depend on critically during the COVID19 crisis.
I do not think it is a big ask for those in One Hyde Park and other prime properties in London to make that a bigger contribution in our time of desperate need.
A shorter version of the blog has appeared as a letter in the FT Letter pages of the 18th of September.