year, local government minister Nick Raynsfordtold BBC Radio Four's Today
programme this morning.
said there was no direct relationship between council tax increases and the
amount of government grant authorities receive.
Councils had not done enough this year to make savings, he said: 'They must
regard that as the top priority in the coming year because the government
and the public will not put up with large unjustified increases in council
Conservative local government spokesman David Currysaid the government was
to blame for council tax increases. 'When people pick up their council tax
bills off the mat this April, they'd better check them for fingerprints
because they've got the government's fingerprints all over them,' he said.
The problem was that council tax 'has now been loaded with public
expenditure to such a degree that it can no longer bear that burden,' he
Audit Commission chairman James Strachantold the programme: 'Both central
and local government must bear some responsibility for the rises that we have seen
this year.' He urged councils to make more savings: 'Some have been very
successful in squeezing more efficiency from their operations, but others
have not tried hard enough and have not made the tough decisions of saying,
if we do this service more, we may have to cut this other one.'
The programme also reported from Weymouth, where council taxes have gone up
by 53 per cent, despite Weymouth and Portland BC recceiving a 12 per cent
Labour councillor Kay Wilcox said the finacial problems arose because: 'We
were no longer able to use any savings that we had, any one-off measures ...
One of the biggest things that has hit us recently is the drop in interest
rates, and at the same time the increased pension costs and pressures like
While the 12 per cent increase was welcome, she said: 'Unfortunately, over
the ten previous years we only had a 0.4 per cent increase in government
grant, so over the whole of that period we only had an extra £21,000.'