Over 130 English councils have confirmed they will accept a one-off payment in exchange for freezing their council tax, the Department for Communities & Local Government has announced.
The news follows ministers announcing last October that £650m had been set aside to fund a payment equivalent to a 2.5% council tax rise to authorities which freeze their rates for 2011-12.
Exclusive LGC research carried out in the wake of the announcement revealed the vast majority of councils were planning to take up the offer.
Communities secretary Eric Pickles praised councils for taking part in the scheme and singled out a number of “can do” councils he said were thinking innovatively to shield frontline services form the cuts imposed on councils budgets in the local government settlement.
A DCLG statement highlighted:
- Hammersmith & Fulham LBC, Kensington & Chelsea RBC and Westminster City Council’s ‘super council’ bid which they say will save £35m a year by 2014/15 by combining back office and management. See full story here.
- Ryedale DC decision to minimise frontline cuts. DCLG said the council was “only facing a single cut to its service next year - scrapping their taxpayer funded newsletter”.
- Kettering BC’s one-stop shop, so residents have easier access to 18 of its vital public services all placed under one roof - reducing its building overheads.
- Reading BC’s decision to increase what it gives voluntary and community groups by an extra £220,000 taking its total funding to over £7m “because of the huge contribution they make to the town’s success”.
Mr Pickles said: “I welcome the news that already over 130 ‘can do’ councils are planning to take part in the government’s £650m council tax freeze initiative.
“This shows that local authorities can keep taxes down and protect frontline services. Driving down the nation’s deficit is the Governments biggest priority but we have made sure that extra money is available to protect the public from council tax rises offering real help to hard working families and pensioners.”