Almost half of all councils already pledging to freeze or cut council tax

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."

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