This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles today (10 February 2015) welcomed the news that over 100 local authorities are set to freeze or lower their Council Tax this year.
New figures showed that 114 town halls and police authorities will take up the offer of the government’s freeze grant, with 8 set to reduce bills for taxpayers.
And the news came as a government analysis showed councils’ have at least a further £30 billion available to them in reserves and uncollected income.
Council reserves stood at £21.4 billion at the end of the last financial year – up from £14.3 billion in 2010 to 2011 – an increase of 50% in just 4 years.
During the same period, town halls failed to collect some £2.5 billion of Council Tax and arrears and lost £2.1 billion to fraud. They also have £220 billion worth of assets on their books, of which £2.4 billion is earmarked as ‘surplus to requirements’.
It’s great news that so many local authorities have already promised to keep bills down for taxpayers and take up our support for freezing or reducing Council Tax.
Councils account for a quarter of public spending and every bit of the public sector must do its bit to pay off the deficit. But there are more than enough sensible savings to be made before hardworking families should have to foot any more of the bill.
Reserves have rocketed up in the past few years and councils could be making better use of assets to keep taxes down and protect frontline services, while at the same time doing more to stop the billions they are losing to fraud and collecting more Council Tax arrears.
The government has provided potential savings worth up to £1,075 for the average band D bill payer with 5 successive years of Council Tax freezes, keeping Council Tax bills down by 11% in real terms since 2010.
Public satisfaction with local authority services has increased – 6 out of 10 people think services are the same or better than 5 years ago.
Spending power reductions for local authorities this year average 1.7%.