Council tax to be frozen after funding change

Wednesday 20 February 2013 Updated: 21/02 15:17

THE cash-strapped city council will not increase its share of annual council tax bills after a change of mind.

Bosses still need to save £29million this year but have axed plans to raise tax.

They had proposed a two per cent increase but said technical changes in government funding lead to the u-turn.

Last week the Labour-run council was urged by opposition councillors not to raise their share of the tax.

West Midlands Police and Fire Service have both already confirmed they will be increasing their share of annual bills.

Deputy council leader Coun George Duggins said: "Although we originally thought we might need to propose a modest rise in council tax to help us tackle some of the challenges ahead, the complexities of government funding means the city benefits more from a freeze in council tax so that’s what we’re doing."

Among the cuts include £1m from health and education services and £15m in community services over three years.

Around 1,600 jobs could be lost, with over half of them already gone.

But Coun Duggins claimed a £50m investment programme would create jobs, with £6m spent on roads and £7m on the Ricoh Arena's train station.

Up to £14m has also been set aside for school expansions to hand every city child a school place.

Councillors meet on Tuesday to discuss the proposals.

The move was welcomed by local government minister Brandon Lewis.

He said: "Local residents will be delighted the council has decided to take up the Government's council tax freeze offer for a third year which is worth over £200 to average Band D resident over the period.

"Residents deserve a much-needed cost of living break and Coventry is right to focus on making sensible savings like those in our '50 ways to save' guide rather than hiking taxes for hard-working families.

"The Government's £450m offer of support for authorities who freeze council tax is in stark contrast to the years of soaring bills under the last Government."

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