Saturday 11 July 2015

Raising Commercial Revenue For H&F Will Be Crucial As David Cameron's Government Has Introduced The Most Draconian Cuts To Local Government In Modern Times

Cllr. Ben Coleman
taking on responsibility for
generating commercial revenue
for H&F Council
Shortly before Christmas the government announced that it would deliver another consecutive year of funding cuts to Hammersmith & Fulham Council – this year that amounts to a real terms reduction in our budget of over ten percent.

On taking office last year my fellow Labour councillors and I cut our special responsibility allowances (our pay) by 10% and cancelled hundreds of thousands of pounds being wasted on council produced magazines and lamp post vanity banners - which often portrayed leading Conservative councillors. By the time of our first full budget in February we had made £24 million of the £71 million of spending reductions we need to make to balance the books over this four year term.

But we need to raise money too. That's why we will shortly be interviewing for a new commercial director. We have also hired a new cabinet member for commercial revenue and resident satisfaction as we want to do everything possible to minimise costs, to residents, protect vital services and put more money back into residents' pockets.

We have rejected the blanket stealth tax approach of the last Conservative administration. We had inherited proposals to: introduce an immediate 14.7% hike in parking charges; to increase over 500 council charges by much more than inflation; and to freeze council tax. We binned all of those.

Instead, we used the savings we had made in our first year's budget to freeze parking charges, abolish home care charges for disabled and elderly residents and cut meals on wheels prices by 33%. We have frozen the vast majority of council charges and are the only council in London to cut council tax this year.

We need to modernise much of the way the council works making it more innovative, more business-like and more responsive to residents.

Zero-based service reviews are one new initiative we had in our manifesto which we're now introducing. That seeks to reinvent established services. We’re already finding more efficient ways different departments and different organisations can work together to save money and in many cases improve results.

But we need to find innovative ways of raising money too. So we will work with residents to help the Council become more business-like in its approach and raise commercial revenue - the proceeds of which will be used to benefit residents across the borough. 

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