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LGC Council Tax Tracker: First freeze revealed

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The first local authority to propose freezing council tax next year has been revealed in LGC’s Council Tax Tracker.

Wyre Forest DC in Worcestershire had already decided it would not raise council tax next year when it set its 2016-17 budget.

LGC understands that position is not going to change.

In papers which went before Wyre Forest’s full council in February it noted 63% of people who responded to its budget consultation supported freezing council tax in 2017-18. Its medium-term financial strategy has assumed council tax will increase by 1.94% in 2018-19 though.

Wyre Forest’s position is in stark contrast to the other 32 local authorities picked up in LGC’s Council Tax Tracker to date.

Out of 24 top-tier authorities, 22 are planning to raise council tax by the maximum amount of 3.99% without triggering a referendum. Even then Cornwall Council and Newcastle City Council are planning increases of 3.97% and 3.95% respectively.

In addition to Wyre Forest, seven other districts have made their proposals public. Of those, five are councils seeking to make use of the freedom to increase council tax by £5 on a band D bill – Basingstoke & Deane BC, Norwich City Council, Newcastle-under-Lyme BC, Canterbury City Council, and Tewkesbury BC. The power for districts to raise council tax by whichever is the greatest of 2% or £5 came into effect this year. The remaining two districts – Bromsgrove DC and Redditch BC – are proposing to raise council tax by 1.9%.

LGC’s Council Tax Tracker was launched last week. Some councils appear to be setting out their proposals earlier than usual as the process has historically begun in earnest across the country in December or January.

While none of the proposals for the next financial year have been fully agreed by councillors, the plans point towards another year of widespread council tax increases. The LGC Council Tax Tracker for 2016-17 showed that of 215 proposals found, 189 councils planned an increase while only one council cut its bill. 

*This story was updated at 4.15pm to correct the assertion that only councils in the lower quartile of council tax could increase council tax by £5.

To let us know about your council’s proposals email david.paine@emap.com.

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