11/02/2018 19:39 GMT

Westminster Council To Ask Wealthy Residents For Voluntary Tax To Help Homeless

Homeowners in top council tax bracket asked to pay extra £833.

The wealthiest residents in one of the country’s richest boroughs will be asked to pay a voluntary ‘tax’ to help the young, homeless and lonely.

Westminster Council will write to those living in the area’s most expensive properties to make an extra voluntary contribution on top of their council tax to help pay for local projects.

The scheme is expected to be given the green light after a consultation in which more than 400 people said they would support the initiative.

Council tax rates, which are among the lowest in the country, have been frozen.

But letters will be sent to homeowners in the highest council tax bracket – Band H – asking them to pay an extra £833.

The money raised is earmarked for projects aimed at helping young people, rough-sleepers and the lonely.

Council leader Nickie Aiken said the scheme was developed after wealthy residents said they wanted to pay more.

“The outcome of our consultation reflects the kind and generous spirit of Westminster residents,” she said.

“It also confirmed what I had heard from people I had met on the doorstep that those in the more expensive homes are willing to contribute more to community projects.

“The scheme is most popular among residents of the most expensive homes.”

Homelessness charity Shelter last year exposed the worst boroughs around the UK for rough sleeping and people being housed in temporary accommodation. and found most of the worst performing boroughs were in London - with some of the richest coming out as the worst.

Westminster, which has an average income of £104,000, has a total of 8,054 people homeless, equivalent to one in 31 people. It’s national ranking was 3rd worst.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, congratulated the council on its “imaginative initiative”.

“May all of us who are willing to do this be given the facility to do so,” he said. “Thank you, Thank you! – You are fantabulous!”

Some of the borough’s well-known residents have also voiced their support.

DJ Tim Westwood said: “Asking people who have done well to contribute a little extra seems a very good idea to me.

“I also like the fact that young people will be among those who benefit from any money raised.”

Margaret Mountford, who appears in BBC reality TV show The Apprentice, added: “In principle this is a very good idea, but obviously we need to see the detail.

“There are clearly areas of need in the borough where money raised could be spent.”