Council tax is set to be frozen

A DECISION whether or not to freeze council tax for the coming year will be taken today (25 February).

Last week North Yorkshire County Council agreed a budget, without raising council tax, in the face of a very tough Government funding settlement and Scarborough Borough Council looks likely to follow suit.

The issue will be discussed at a meeting of the full council at Scarborough Town Hall where councillors will be asked to approve a £17,733,990 revenue budget.

Councillor Tom Fox, the borough council leader said: “The council has looked very carefully at its budget setting and, through prudent management, it’s now in a position to deliver a zero increase this year.”

Speaking after the county council’s decision to freeze council tax John Weighell, North Yorkshire’s leader, said: “We understand how difficult things are for households and families at the present time and so we are proposing not to raise council tax.

“However, North Yorkshire is a low spending and low taxing council which has already made £60 million of savings already over the past five years.

“This leaves the authority with reduced scope for making savings through efficiency.

“Nevertheless we are doing everything possible to make tough spending decisions while protecting frontline services and the most vulnerable people in our society.”

In October it was revealed that it was likely that council tax levels across the country would remain at the current level in a move which would save the average Band D householder £42.70 – based on last year’s 2.74 per cent increase.

The news followed at least five years of inflation-busting rises and, if approved at today’s (25 Feb) meeting, would provide a much-needed boost to residents facing cuts imposed under the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review.

The bulk of the cash collected by Scarborough Borough Council goes to North Yorkshire County Council for services such as schools, libraries, social services and roads, with the county’s police and fire service also taking a share each.

Council tax is broken down into five sections - 68 per cent of the money goes to county council services, 14 per cent to borough council services, four per cent to the fire service, 13 per cent to the police and one per cent to parish and town councils. Last autumn central government announced a new grant scheme which would be open to all billing and major precepting authorities which decided to freeze or reduce their council tax this year – if they did they would receive additional funding this year which would be equivalent to raising last year’s council tax by 2.5 per cent.

Speaking at the time of the announcement Eric Pickles, the Communities and Local Government Secretary of State, said that councils were being given unprecedented control over their money.

He added: “We’ve set aside £650 million to fully fund a council tax freeze for householders next year.”