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Call for freeze in council tax
DISTRICT councils across Worcestershire are being called upon to freeze council tax when it comes to crunch votes next month.
As your Worcester News reported on Wednesday, the county council’s leadership wants to peg rises at zero to help hard-pressed households. But the county council only controls 72 per cent of the bill, with the rest decided by the police, fire service and district councils.
All the authorities will take votes on it in February, with the outcome far from certain, particularly as West Mercia Police is consulting over a two per cent rise in its portion of the bill.
Worcester City Council’s Conservative leadership wants a freeze, but the vote could be lost as the party is a minority administration.
In Wychavon, there is not expected to be any opposition to a freeze, while Malvern Hills District Council’s leadership has yet to make any announcement.
Councillor David Thain, a county council cabinet member, has urged all the districts to freeze rates.
“The general public out there are clearly not in favour of any council tax rise, that is not what they want. We have listened to them because they have made their views clear, and I hope now all the districts go the same way and freeze their elements of the council tax too.”
Coun Marcus Hart, the cabinet member for health, said: “There is no doubt that the money we are saving for taxpayers in this county is significant – the budget we are bringing forward is one for many, not the few.”
Any authority can increase its portion of the council tax bill by 1.9 per cent this year without the need for a referendum. The Government has been encouraging councils to freeze rates by offering a cash lump sum equivalent to one per cent of the income as a sweetener.
Worcestershire County Council has held rises at zero for the last two years, and bosses say if a third freeze in a row can be approved next month it will have saved households £70 a year on average over that period.