The leader of Sutton Council has issued a statement defending the local authority's decision to raise tax by nearly four per cent.

Earlier this month the council published its proposed budget for 2019/20.

Now Councillor Ruth Dombey has issued a statement on the reasons behind the rise.

"When I’m asked how our council tax is spent, people are often surprised to hear that almost two-thirds of our budget goes to looking after older people, vulnerable children and people with learning or physical disabilities," she said.

"Unless you have a relative or a friend that needs extra support, has just come out of hospital or needs extra care to live independently, these vital services that improve lives tend to go under the radar.

"We provide an important safety net for some of the most vulnerable adults and children living in our borough.

"With people living longer needing many more years of support, and a huge increase in the numbers of children with special educational needs and disabilities, our finances - like those of every other local authority - are being stretched to the limit."

The recommendation to Council of a 1.99% core Council Tax increase, which is £27.34 (52p a week) on a Band D property.

In addition, the government is assuming that the Council will increase the council tax by a further 2% to raise funds for the pressures in Adult Social Care. This Adult Social Care Precept increase is a further £27.47 (53p a week) increase for a Band D property.

This will mean the Sutton element for a Council Tax Band D property will go up in total to £1,428.62 for a Band D property for 2020/21, an increase of 3.99%.

"Everyone wants to see clean streets, safe roads and pavements, refuse collected on time, good street lighting and well tended parks and open spaces," Cllr Dombey added.

"We know how important these services are and we are determined to maintain standards and ensure our borough continues to be a lovely place to live and work. As ever, we are balancing these priorities against the needs of people who need more specialised help.

"In spite of ten years of austerity cuts, we remain ambitious for our borough. Whether it’s improving our High Streets and district centres, building new energy-efficient council homes, helping to develop the London Cancer Hub into one of the most important cancer research and treatment centres in the world, tackling the climate emergency or working with the police to keep Sutton one of the safest places in London, I am proud of our borough and the people living here.

"Our council tax protects the most vulnerable while helping us deliver our ambitious projects to bring new jobs, homes and improvements."

An earlier version of this story said the proposed increase would be 4.99%. It is actually 3.99%