Around £340m of new cash, directed to councils to help with next year's spending on key services, and their council tax dilemmas, was announced by chancellor Gordon Brown in his pre-budget statement. This adds to the £420m promised last month by John Prescott's department in the local government funding settlement, following intense lobbying by Labour local government leaders to avoid high council tax rises or cuts in services in April 2004.
'I am optimistic that we are winning a consensus around this point - the challenge has to be to maintain this momentum.'
'This new money may not be enough to prevent above-inflation council tax rises in many areas, but it will certainly help. Councils will do their level best next year to keep council tax rises as low as possible.'