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London borough tables ‘voluntary contribution’ tax plans for richest residents

City of Westminster Council, which is responsible for one of the wealthiest boroughs in London, has put forward plans to allow certain residents to pay a voluntary council tax.

The policy would mean people living in Band H properties will be asked to pay double the rates normally charged by the council on a voluntary basis.

It has been proposed after a public consultation suggested that many residents living in the most expensive homes were supportive of paying into such a scheme.

While residents would still be required to pay the Greater London Authority (GLA) sections of their tax, and contribute toward the adult social care precept, the rest of Westminster’s council tax rates would be frozen.

Money raised by the plan will be spent specifically on tackling issues of isolation and loneliness, providing extra support for young homeless people, and investing in youth services.

“We remain determined to help those on lowest incomes by freezing their council tax,” explained Cllr Nickie Aiken, leader of Westminster Council.

“The law does not allow us to raise council tax for just one Band. If we raise council tax we must do so for everyone – from the lowest to the highest bands. The voluntary Westminster Community Contribution offers a fair way for those who want to contribute more to do so.

“Back in October 2017, I decided to act on a growing number of requests from some residents who live in the highest valued homes that they wanted to voluntarily contribute more than their existing council tax. I am delighted that so many people want to support the initiative in its first year.”

Aiken went on to say that the consultation showed the “kind and generous spirit” of Westminster residents who were willing to contribute to improving the local area.

The latest report on the council’s public survey says that just over 50% of the 904 people who owned homes worth more than £5m were supportive of the policy, while the number dips slightly below half for those who own homes worth less than £5m.

Based on the responses, the proposals could raise an additional £350,000 – a council spokesman said – with around 2,000 residents owning homes worth more than £10m, which falls within band H.

The council's cabinet will make a decision on the proposals on 19 February, with a recommendation expected to be brought to full council on 7 March for a final decision.

Top images: Westminster

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