Council rethinks tax freeze despite long-term fund worries

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A YORKSHIRE council is looking to scale back plans for a council tax rise after the Government criticised rogue authorities for turning down an offer of a one-off freeze.

Scarborough Council officers had recommended that their share of council tax rises by three per cent, and that a Government grant, which would have paid for a tax freeze, is turned down.

However, following a consultation over the plans, they are now championing two new options – to increase tax by 2.5 per cent, or accept the grant from Westminster, which is aimed at preventing any rises. Residents will not see any changes to their bill this April if the council bows to public demand and agrees to accept the Government’s offer.

A report by Scarborough Council’s head of finance, Nicholas Edwards, said: “Despite a number of residents and members agreeing with the proposal to opt for the long-term financial benefits derived from a council tax increase in order to protect services over the long term, the general consensus from the feedback received was that the council should accept the Government’s grant and freeze its council tax levels for another year.”

The Yorkshire Post revealed last Saturday that York Council will instigate a 2.9 per cent increase in its share of the council tax bill.

The announcement comes in the wake of a proposed increase by a third North Yorkshire authority, Richmondshire District Council, which is considering a three per cent rise, prompting condemnation from the campaign group, the Taxpayers’ Alliance.

Leaders of some of the region’s largest councils, including Leeds and Wakefield, said it would be “political suicide” for them not to take the Government’s offer – but warned that this will hugely increase the pressure on budgets in years to come.