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Osborne funding offer finds favour

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The Conservatives’ offer of sufficient funding for councils to implement a two-year council tax freeze appears to be enticing many Labour councillors.

According to the LGC/ComRes poll, 49% of Labour members think their council should accept the Tories’ offer.

Shadow chancellor George Osborne has pledged that in the first two years of a Tory administration, any council able to limit council tax rises to 2% or less would be funded by the Treasury to turn that into a council tax freeze.

Sir Jeremy Beecham, leader of the Local Government Association Labour group, said: “Osborne’s pledge could well be a trap, forcing many councils to make cuts to vital local services,” he said.

“Unless any freeze was fully funded and adjusted for inflation, councils would find themselves in dire straits.”

Tom Shakespeare, research fellow at thinktank Localis, said: “There are some concerns this measure makes councils more dependent on central government handouts. However, if treated as a purely short-term measure, it is surprising that only 49% of Labour respondents are in favour.”

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