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Pickles freeze plans left in a puddle

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One in five councils look set to reject the government’s incentive to freeze council tax funding next year, according to LGC research.

Our annual poll of finance directors suggests there will be a sharp rise in the number of authorities increasing council tax compared to this year, when one in ten turned down the government’s funding offer.

LGC’s research shows 22.4% expect their councils to reject the freeze funding announced by chancellor George Osborne at the Conservative party conference, compared to the 10% who announced an increase in March this year.

Local government minister Brandon Lewis warned councils to “consider their residents interests very carefully before leaping to a decision” on next year’s council tax. “When costs are rising elsewhere the public won’t tolerate unnecessary tax increases. In particular, councillors with elections in May can either show they are helping people with the cost of living, or else face explaining on the doorsteps why they have snatched money away from hard-working families and pensioners.

“The coalition government’s council tax freeze has cut council tax in real terms over the last two years. A third year’s freeze will mean the combined effect is potentially worth over £200 to Band D residents. Freezing bills again will really help hard working families and those on fixed incomes, such as pensioners, with their cost of living.”

The LGA did not provide a comment, although chairman Sir Merrick Cockell said at the time of the funding announcement that “any help for councils is a good thing, but we have to be clear that this is a short-term offer”. He added: “”It is only right that councils take a longer-term view on budget planning and that decisions on the level of council tax are made by councillors who will then rightly be held to account through the ballot box.”

 

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