Town halls waver over council tax freeze

Brighton Greens are set to reject council tax hike
Brighton Greens are set to reject council tax hike

By staff

As many as one in five local authorities could reject the government's offer of a freeze in council tax, research out today suggests.

The government has offered the equivalent of a 2.5% increase in funding for all councils which agree to freeze the local levy.

But unlike last year when all local authorities accepted the money, a survey of council finance officers by the Local Government Chronicle newspaper suggested 20% of English town halls are not yet persuaded.

Councils are concerned that taking the grant will leave them no choice but to impose greater cuts in services or tax increases next year.

Two Conservative-run councils were among the six local authorities who said they intended to turn down the grant.

That could embarrass prime minister David Cameron, who attacked the decision of the Green-controlled Brighton council to reject the freeze yesterday.

"We are freezing the council tax and have made that money available to councils up and down the country. It is a decision for individual councils," he told MPs in prime minister's questions.

"If they want the money to go ahead with the council tax freeze, the money is there, but if they reject it, as they plan to in Brighton, that is a huge mistake, because the council will be asking families in Brighton to pay more at a time when it should be on their side."

The Green party is expected to confirm the move when it unveils its budget on December 1st.


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