News Column

Authorities planning big council tax rises

February 19, 2014

DOZENS of English councils are poised to infuriate ministers by raising council tax just short of the threshold that would trigger a referendum.

Almost a third of authorities are set to reject the offer of extra central Government funding to help freeze bills.

More than half of those plan to impose a hike of 1.99 per cent, the biggest possible without being forced to seek the approval of voters.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has described town hall leaders who go close to the limit as "democracy dodgers".

The Local Government Chronicle received responses from 262 of the 353 councils.

Confirmation of the figures will not come until spending plans have been approved by councils in the coming weeks.

Local authorities face a 2.9 per cent cut in overall Government funding for the forthcoming financial year - another reduction to budgets which town hall leaders say are already too stretched to pay for some important services.

Local GovernmentMinister Brandon Lewis said: "We would encourage every council to take up this year's freeze offer to help their residents with the cost of living.' ' Sharon Taylor, chairman of the Local Government Association finance panel, said:

"Local authorities are grappling with the difficult task of protecting vital services like caring for the elderly."

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Source: Northern Echo (England)

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