Council tax in Harrow will increase by almost three per cent as the council seeks to balance its books for 2018/19.

It announced that the tax will be up by 2.99 per cent, in addition to a 0.5 per cent government-authorised precept to pay for the increasing cost of adult social care.

According to the council, the move is in keeping with 95 per cent of local authorities across the country that have decided to raise council tax in order to ease financial pressures.

But Cllr Barry Macleod-Cullinane, deputy leader of the Conservatives in Harrow, questioned the management approach of those in power.

He said: “The key point is that we now have the highest level of increase since 2014 across the whole of London, while council tax is the second highest in the capital.

“Neighbouring Hillingdon, meanwhile, has frozen its council tax for the tenth year in a row. It faces the same issues but they have managed their budget much, much better.

“There has been a cumulative increase of around £420 to people’s bills – it’s important to manage council tax as it can really hurt everybody.”

He challenged the council to “leave no stone unturned” and referenced the fact that it opted to bring back the chief executive role at the expense of thousands of pounds worth of potential savings as an example.

But Cllr Adam Swersky, responsible for finance at Harrow Council, said this budget represents a “massive financial achievement”.

It comes after it also announced £7.4 million worth of budget savings, which will be achieved through a variety of measures.

These include reducing services, cutting funding to external organisations, making back-office cutbacks and introducing new ways to make running the council “more efficient”.

He said: “Given the brutal scale of the national government’s vendetta against local councils – today marks a massive financial achievement for Harrow.

“This Council is cushioning the blow where we can. We’ve saved millions by cutting back staffing, red tape and waste. We’re earning millions from sharing services and new commercial ventures.

“Even then – we know what austerity means for people, and we need to thank all our residents and staff for the sacrifices that are being made, every single day, to make Harrow a place we are proud to call home.”

His words were echoed by council leader Sachin Shah who said it was important to maintain funds for emergencies and not overspend.

He referenced the plight of other councils, such as Northamptonshire, which has “run out of money with disastrous consequences”.

“I take being careful with your money very seriously. Reserves are for emergencies. That’s why we are cutting our cloth to what we’ve got. The funding crisis facing us and other councils is a national disgrace – but we are coping,” said Cllr Shah.

“We are making hard choices every day. Other councils have slashed vital services to the bone, hurting the very residents who need them the most.

“We believe Harrow people want to care for the vulnerable and make our borough clean – and we will continue to devote our efforts to those causes, within our means.”

In addition to the cuts, and the increase in council tax, the council pledged £9 million to support services for the borough’s “most vulnerable residents”.

This includes almost £3 million for children’s services and nearly £6 million for adults and social care.

Cllr Macleod-Cullinane argued that, had the council not underspent in previous years, it could have achieved similar results in these areas but for much less money.