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PRE-BUDGET REPORT: 'EXTRA CASH WILL HELP TO KEEP COUNCIL TAX DOWN'

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Local Government Association Labour group leader, Sir Jeremy Beecham, has welcomed today's announcement of extra ca...
Local Government Association Labour group leader, Sir Jeremy Beecham, has welcomed today's announcement of extra cash for local government. The money will help councils grappling with the choice between pushing up council tax or cutting vital services.

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.

Sir Jeremy Beecham said: 'Local government is getting its message heard. Today's money is more than just a welcome sticking-plaster measure. It points the way to a more fundamental change in local government finance to a fairer, more transparent and accountable system which will allow people to understand better the relationship between council spending decisions and the local tax they have to pay.'

'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.'

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