Residents and hard pressed families will be delighted to hear that now over 200 councils have already signalled they intend to help with the cost of living by taking up our council tax freeze offer, Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles confirmed today.
Over 200 councils in England are preparing to vote this month to freeze or reduce council tax next year according to public information.
Seven authorities have indicated they will cut council tax in cash terms. They are Hammersmith and Fulham, South Oxfordshire, Stratford-on-Avon, Tendring, Windsor and Maidenhead, Stratford-on-Avon, South Holland and the Greater London Authority.
Local Government Minister Bob Neill has now written to council leaders urging all councils to sign up to the freeze offer as ‘an act of public service’ that ‘local residents will greatly appreciate’.
Council tax bills more than doubled since 1997 until last year’s freeze. The Government has set aside up to £675 million for local authorities in England to help keep council tax down. Last year’s freeze saved households up to an estimated £72 on a Band D bill, and this year’s freeze could potentially do the same.
This is the second year the Government has offered to freeze council tax for local residents, families and pensioners. It builds on the offer taken up by all councils last year boosting what they could get over four years to £3.3 billion if they hold council tax for a second year.
The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles said:
Freezing council tax is a concrete way councils can support residents in tough times, by keeping bills down for local families. Anything less is a kick in the teeth to hard-working, decent taxpayers which is why it is great that over 200 councils have already pledged to freeze.
Most councils will be setting their budgets in the next few weeks and I fully expect the number freezing to climb further. For council taxpayers who’ve seen their bills double since 1997 to around £120 a month they need that decision to go their way.
Local Government Minister Bob Neill added:
I know the public service ethos is at the heart of local government. Freezing council tax is a public service act in itself which, local residents will greatly appreciate, both now and in the months ahead.
The map below shows the councils that have signalled their intention to take part in the Government’s 2012-13 council tax freeze initiative as of 8 February 2012.
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View Council Tax Freeze in a larger map
Notes to editors
The list of councils that have signalled their intention to take part in the Government’s 2012-13 £675 million council tax freeze initiative as of 8 February 2012 is available here: www.communities.gov.uk/documents/localgovernment/pdf/2087864.pdf (PDF, 38kb).
Letter from Local Government Minister Bob Neill to all English local authority Leaders regarding Council Tax for 2012-13 is available here: www.communities.gov.uk/publications/localgovernment/letterlacounciltax201213.
Council tax bills hit £1,439 on Band D in England in 2010-11. This year, 2011-12, the average Band D bill set by local authorities remained at £1,439. In London it was £1,308; in metropolitan areas it was £1,399; and in shire areas it was £1,484. Council tax was £688 in 1997-98. This means council tax has risen over one hundred per cent - or an extra £751 a year on a Band D home. Since all other Bands are set as a percentage of Band D, homes in every band have seen their bills double.
The value of saving for taxpayers by area from two years of the council tax freeze scheme compared to a five per cent rise can be found here: www.communities.gov.uk/documents/newsroom/1786823/2028892.xls (Excel, 63kb).
Local authorities who do not put up their council tax will receive a grant worth 2.5 per cent of their council tax income. The freeze means local taxpayers living in an average Band D home in England could save up to £72. More details on how the council tax freeze scheme works: www.communities.gov.uk/documents/localgovernment/pdf/2000149.pdf (PDF, 32kb).
The Localism Act abolishes Whitehall capping in England and puts local referendums in its place. This gives the public the right to veto excessive council tax rises. Councils that set council tax increase above a ceiling approved by Parliament each year would automatically trigger a referendum of all registered local electors in their area. This year the proposed new ‘local tax lock’ allows people a vote to stop council tax going up in most cases if their local authority refuses to freeze bills and hike the tax by more than 3.5 per cent. Parliament will be asked to endorse the final vote threshold before councils set their annual budgets in the spring.
The Government’s provisional funding settlement for English local authorities next financial year will mean councils have an average spending power of £2,186 per household at their disposal. £27.8 billion will be distributed in 2012-13 in a fair and sustainable way across all parts of the country - rural and urban, metropolitan and shire. It will give more weight to areas with the highest levels of assessed need. For example, the average spending power per household in Hackney will be £3,050 compared with £1,537 in Windsor and Maidenhead reflecting the fairness of the settlement. Overall the average spending power reduction for councils in 2012-13 is expected to be limited to just 3.3 per cent or £75 per household, less than last year’s comparable figure of 4.5 per cent.
Average Band D council tax and percentage change between 1993-94 and 2011-12 are shown below:
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