Council to freeze tax precept in recession

A DISTRICT council in North Yorkshire has agreed to freeze its council tax charges to give thousands of householders a financial respite in the wake of the recession.

Ryedale District Council has become the latest local authority to announce it will not be instigating any rises in its precept on council tax bills for the forthcoming financial year.

Senior finance officers admitted that the decision to freeze council tax charges at the current level had been a "difficult challenge".

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A reduction in funding from Westminster is expected to compound an already tight financial situation, but Ryedale councillors opted for the freeze at a meeting on Monday evening to alleviate the pressures on taxpayers.

A council spokeswoman claimed that the tax freeze had been achieved through making "significant efficiencies", but maintained that there had not been cuts to front-line services.

The services provided by Ryedale District Council, including waste collections and environmental health, will cost 176.72 for a Band D property in the next financial year from April.

Meanwhile, councillors in Hambleton agreed yesterday to approve a rise of 2.5 per cent in the district authority's council tax precept.

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The rise will bring the Hambleton District Council's charge for a band D property to 89.48 – an increase of 2.18 – for the forthcoming financial year.

Harrogate Borough Council is among the other authorities to have agreed a freeze on their council tax precepts.

North Yorkshire County Council, however, provoked controversy last week when it opted to impose a higher than expected rise, or so-called "snow levy", to help pay for repairs to roads damaged in the winter freeze.

The council maintained that the 2.94 per cent rise in its precept – which equates to a 1,057.48 bill for a band D property – is the lowest for 16 years.