Cash boost to freeze Plymouth council tax welcomed
MOVES to freeze council tax for a third year running have been welcomed by the city's Conservatives.
But Labour's finance chief in Plymouth warned that the freeze, announced by the Prime Minister, could lead to long-term cuts in services.
Cllr Ian Bowyer, the finance spokesman for the Conservative group on Plymouth City Council, warmly welcomed the announcement of further Government funding to freeze council tax.
The freeze was announced by David Cameron at the Tory Party conference in Birmingham. Mr Cameron announced £270 million of funding for local authorities which agree to freeze council tax next year. But the money will only fund part of the freeze.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
For those local authorities that do not increase the household levy, the Government will provide a grant equivalent to a 1per cent rise in the charge.
Last year the cash support equated to raising the council tax by 2.5 per cent.
The Government also ratcheted up the pressure on councils by lowering the threshold for a public vote if they press ahead with a tax hike.
Mr Bowyer said: "Conservatives in Plymouth have driven a culture of financial discipline at the council.
"It became the norm to balance the books and live within our means.
"Council tax levels doubled under the last Labour Government but we changed things and froze council tax in 2011 and 2012.
"If the present council takes up the Government's offer it will mean a freeze for three years running and I strongly urge them to do so. I hope they will make an early decision.
"A freeze in 2013 would mean that a Band D taxpayer would save about £40."
"The days of simply hiking up council taxes are long gone."
Cllr Mark Lowry, Labour's Cabinet member for finance, said the information from the Government was still very limited.
"On the surface, it sounds acceptable if the Government is prepared to fund the freeze fully."
But he said that if it were only funded for a year "it would effectively give us a cut in future years. The council would have to find further savings or start cutting frontline services.
"That is obviously a place nobody wants to go."