Bromley Council has approved plans to raise council tax for residents by 4.99 per cent, the maximum amount allowed without a referendum.

The rise, due to come into effect in April, comes alongside council officers predicting a future deficit of over £38million.

Conservative Councillor Christopher Marlow said at a Bromley Council meeting on February 26 that if the authority didn’t make significant savings, reserves would be fully exhausted within three years.

Council documents said that under the current budget, a deficit of £38.7million was projected for the 2027/28 financial year.

Cllr Marlow said at the meeting: “We remain the only local authority in London with no debt albeit we fully expect in the coming year that status to change as we refinance our housing schemes.

"However, I think our title as least indebted borough in London will be one we certainly intend to hold onto on this side of the chamber for a very, very long time indeed.”

The report said the upcoming council tax rise will bring an additional £9.4m of funds to the authority.

The 4.99 per cent increase is derived from a 2.99 per cent increase in general council tax alongside a 2 per cent hike in adult social care.

These figures, combined with the 8.6 per cent increase in the Mayor of London’s precept, equates to a 5.8 per cent rise in overall council tax.

This means households in band D will be paying an overall sum of £1,949.71 per year.

Councillor Simon Jeal, leader of the Labour Group, put forward an alternative proposal on behalf of the group to freeze council tax rates for the upcoming financial year for those living in bands A to C, as well as allowing care leavers to be exempt from paying council tax.

The group also outlined plans to open two dedicated care homes for children and adults respectively, at a cost of £3.15m each.

Labour Councillor Jessica Arnold said at the meeting: “In this current year, 2023/24, costs have been spiralling with costs of over £1,400 per week per placement in nursing care, and just shy of £1,100 per week for residential care.

"Now we know that budgets, if we do nothing, will continue to be blown on this front. We’re seeing high pressure on the adult social care budget and therefore we need to do something about it.”

Councillor Julie Ireland, leader of the Lib Dem Group, said she supported Labour’s proposals to bring care home services back in-house.

The Lib Dem alternative budget proposal included plans to extend the eligibility for the authority’s council tax support scheme to help those struggling through the cost-of-living crisis.

Conservative Councillor Colin Smith, leader of the council, said the authority was working behind the scenes to look at options for a new children’s home, and that opening a care home in the borough was a ‘no brainer’.

He also advised the Lib Dem Group to discuss with officers its proposal of setting up a voluntary fund for residents to donate for the support of community groups. The budget amendments, put forward by the Labour and Lib Dem groups, were not carried at the meeting and the original motion, proposed by the Conservative Group, was passed.