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Tax freeze dilemma
9:56am Thursday 21st February 2013 in Letters
IN RESPONSE to Denis Barton’s letter of February 16 and indeed Chris Steward’s reply of February 19, the council tax freeze is funded by a government grant. For the past two years, this has been equivalent to a 2.5 per cent increase in council tax. However, in 2013-14 the £1.8 million grant will only be the same as a one per cent increase.
At some point, this funding will be withdrawn, so councils which have repeatedly frozen council tax may find themselves having to impose double-digit rises to make up the shortfall. According to a survey carried out by the Local Government Chronicle, around 25 per cent of councils are intending to reject the grant and raise council tax in 2013-14. In political terms, 22 per cent of Conservative authorities have plans to increase council tax compared with 32 per cent of Labour councils and 17 per cent controlled by Lib Dems.
Unitary authorities such as York (39 per cent) are most likely to raise council tax; only 11 per cent of county councils, which face local elections in May, are proposing to do the same.
Last year, the same survey quoted the finance director of a Conservative-controlled council on the decision to accept the grant: “Financially it makes no sense, but politically members feel they’ve no choice.”
Dr J Watkinson, Pulleyn Drive, York.