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How the Conservatives have frozen Council Tax in Hounslow

Thompson Cllr Peter Thompson, the leader of Hounslow Council, on winning the battle to cut Council Tax in real terms despite a tough grant settlement from central Government.

Between 2007 and 2008 The Hounslow Performance Improvement Programme (PiP) has squeezed a massive £53m from management, administration and support costs for use on improving local services.

In 2006 the new administration set out our stall - zero Council Tax rises with measurable improvements in service quality. We have managed to freeze the Council Tax for the first 2 years of our administration
but we were clear that a radical overhaul of the Council was needed to release resources for service improvement and to keep the Council Tax down for the next 2 years, all against the backdrop of an appalling
settlement from central government.

In 2006 we commissioned work that told us that we needed to:

  • Reduce the size of the workforce
  • Improve management and leadership skills to overcome "passive management"
  • Improve training
  • Reduce unnecessary layers of management and supervision
  • Reduce duplication of activity

In July 2007 the Council signed an improvement partnership with KPMG and set a target of £10m cashable savings within 12 months. By September 2008 three-year cashable savings of £53m were identified;
£18m of the total was released within the first year.

We wanted to create a smaller but stronger council.

Hounslow is successfully delivering nine major improvements to the way
the council operates as follows:

1.      A clear, designed and managed establishment - layers of
management have been removed.
2.      Staff with common administrative skills are to be managed as a
shared resource
3.      Bills are paid, payments received and financial information
provided efficiently
     through a shared service
4.      New contracts are in place for a range of goods and services
5.      Staff update personal details and get payslips on-line.
6.      Schools pay an appropriate price for council services
7.      Adult care is managed and delivered at a lower cost
8.      Staff will work in open, flexible and standard accommodation
in fewer buildings.
9.      Council will increase the use of modern channels and has
implemented the first wave of
      channel improvements and consolidations

To put it simply the majority of the savings have come from the 449 posts to be removed from the organisation by 2010 (400 have already gone).  The remaining savings come from Council reducing spend on third parties, removing council staff from six administrative buildings and asking schools to cover more of the cost of services provided.

Over a short period of time and in a political situation where we are in collation with a group of independent councillors and have no overall control of the council my conservative lead administration has
radically changed the council. This will mean that we become more efficient in the way that we work, ensure that we reduce costs for the taxpayer and provide the best possible services to the local


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