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Minister insists rates freeze will not cost councils

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Local authorities will not be “left out of pocket” by the council tax freeze outlined in the Budget, junior local government minister Andrew Stunell has insisted.

Mr Stunell’s pledge followed councils calling for detail on how the policy, which will see a national freeze on council tax for next year, will work.

Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget failed to outline how much money has been earmarked to fund the cut and where the money would come from, prompting concerns councils would be forced to fork out for the cut themselves.

Addressing an LGC/New Local Government Network event, Mr Stunell also declared there will be a period of “quango culling” later this year and said power would be handed back to councils.

Talking about the localism bill, which is expected later this year, he said: “Andrew Stunell, said: “The localism bill will set the stage for the long-overdue push of powers out of Whitehall to councils and neighbourhoods right across the country, and give local communities control over housing and planning decisions.

“It will help set the foundations for the Big Society by radically transforming the relationships between central government, local government, communities and individuals.”

A Department for Communities & Local Government spokesman said: “The chancellor said in his Budget statement that the government will help local authorities freeze council tax.We will set out our plans in detail in due course.”

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