Council tax is due to be cut for the first time in more than a decade with a 1.4 per cent reduction recommended to Merton’s cabinet.

About £1 a month will be shaved off band D tax rates at an overall cost to the local authority of £1.1m.

Council leader David Williams praised the reduction as a “remarkable achievement” and said it was important the cash be put back in the pocket of taxpayers who have struggled through recession.

He added: “All council tax payers will be receiving a reduction, and over the course of the four years we have been in power any overall increase will be under the rate of inflation. In real terms, that’s a reduction in council tax.”

But the cut has not passed the council’s scrutiny process, according to its independent chairman Councillor Peter Southgate, who described the move as “policy making on the hoof”.

He said: “The news comes as a complete surprise. This is a chunk of money - more than £1m - that has got to be found from somewhere, and it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to scrutinise how it will be paid for.

“I’m sure council taxpayers will be pleased to see a cut, but it needs to be made clear how it will be found and assessed if this is a cut too far. It undermines the whole process of scrutiny.”

Merton’s opposition Labour leader, Councillor Stephen Alambritis, criticised the authority for failing to give a £100 rebate to taxpayers out of its reserves that have doubled to £12m in the last four years.

He said: “This cut is too little too late. Our proposed rebate emasculates a 1.4 per cent reduction and would have been introduced while we are still in recession.”

Merton’s current tax rate for a band D property stands at £1,429 but is expected to be reduced by about £15.