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Council tax freeze announced

Councils have been warned that they need to ensure they can manage more cuts to their finances in 2013/14 before accepting the Government’s offer for a further council tax freeze next year.

Ministers have announced that £805m will be provided to freeze council tax in 2012/13, which is equivalent to a 2.5% council tax increase.

The amount each council will receive from the deal will be confirmed in March, but indicative grants, calculated by averaging growth in council tax base in the last three years, demonstrate that Essex County Council will receive the largest amount, £14.5m.

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said: “Our two-year freeze promise, potentially worth up to £72 each year to Band D residents, is in stark contrast to the years before when council tax was allowed to double.

“Today, every local authority can see how we’ll back them to hold council tax steady for another year and leave millions of taxpayers with more of their hard earned cash in their pockets.”

But Local Government Association chair Sir Merrick Cockell warned: “Many councils will be keen to help people out by freezing council tax bills for a second successive year but, if they are thinking of taking this offer up, they will also need to ensure that they are able to manage any future financial consequences as the Government has now confirmed that the funding is for one year only.

“Local authorities provide vital services that people rely on. To carry on doing this effectively, councils need to carefully consider their ability to plan for future years’ council tax and spending levels, as well as whether this serves the long-term interests of residents, before deciding if they will take the offer up.”

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