Greenwich Council will channel millions of pounds into tackling poverty and creating a “Greener Greenwich”, while council tax will be increased by the maximum rate, under proposals contained in the authority’s draft budget for 2020/21.

Ahead of the draft budget being officially unveiled for public consultation, the local democracy reporting service can exclusively reveal details for the authority’s planned expenditure over the next year.

Among the key features of the budget will be a £1.5m allocation towards investing in a “Greener Greenwich”, while support for council tax and Universal Credit recipients will also be hiked up.

Part of that support for Universal Credit support will be a proposal to make a temporary support team, established last year, permanent.

The temporary team offered assistance to more than 600 households last year according to the council, with £750,000 to go towards the borough’s emergency support scheme which helps vulnerable residents in times of crisis.

“Now the Conservatives have won such a clear majority, Universal Credit is here to stay,” council leader Dan Thorpe said.

He added that changes to council tax support would save “some of the borough’s most vulnerable residents up to £200 a year”. 

At the moment, working-age residents receiving council tax support still need to pay at least 15 per cent of their bill. The proposed changes would increase the maximum level of support up to 100 per cent.

The authority is also set to channel £1.5m into improving parks and green spaces, in a bid to help the council reach its target of being carbon neutral by 2030.

It will include investments in more electric vehicle charging infrastructure, car clubs and measures that discourage car use and enable people to walk, cycle and use public transport.

Cllr Thorpe said the funding would also go towards supporting businesses and residents in embracing carbon emission reduction practices, including creating incentives for replacing boilers with more climate friendly alternatives.

The council will also propose to raise its council tax rate by the maximum permissible level of 1.99 per cent – equating to a 90p weekly rise for a band D household.

Cllr Thorpe said he’d “like to be in a position where we didn’t have to raise council tax”, but an expectation now from government that local council’s would raise rates annually meant it was a necessity.

It means a band D household now paying £1,169 over 2019/20 would now likely pay £1,216, an increase of £47 a year.

The authority is also considering contentious plans to introduce a range of new charges to residents using adult social care services, which could save the council £1.6m over the next year if adopted.

Cllr Thorpe said the proposals, which fronted two scrutiny committee meetings last week and are due to be voted on by cabinet at the end of the month, came as demand for services reached “unprecedented levels”.

“Moving forward, we need a plan where adult social care isn’t funded by council tax,” he said.

Cllr Thorpe said the budget came against an increasingly difficult funding backdrop.

Since 2010, the amount of money Greenwich Council has received from the government has reduced by over £130m.

Combined with increases in costs, it means the authority is now facing an estimated £57m pressure on budgets between now and 2024.

“We have been decimated in that regard. Although there’s a lot of noise saying austerity is over, this hasn’t translated into anything for us (local government),” he said.

“Local government has done more to cut down on wasteful spending than anyone, but we can’t just keep doing more with less.”

Councillor Matt Hartley, leader of Greenwich Conservatives, said the opposition would be carefully scrutinising the budget process. 

“We will be carefully scrutinising the rest of Labour’s budget plans as an Opposition Group over the coming weeks. For now I would urge all residents to take part in the consultation so that they can have their say as decisions are made."

Once consultation is completed, the draft budget will be scrutinised by a council committee, before reaching a full meeting of council for a final vote in February.

Consultation will be open until January 27. Feedback on the proposals can be given by visiting