Council tax frozen but budget cuts given green light

By Matthew Bates Thursday 28 February 2013 Updated: 04/03 10:04

BUDGETS cuts of £29 million for this year alone have been unanimously passed by city councillors.

Council tax has been frozen under the council plan but a swathe of cuts have been given the go-ahead.

Over the next three years £61m will be cut from the council's budget with bosses warning frontline services would be hit.

Campaigners gathered in the city centre at the weekend for a trade union-organised protest against the cuts.

But delivering Tuesday's budget, deputy leader George Duggins told people to expect less from the local authority.

"Gone are the days when people call on the council to provide them with nearly everything," he said.

Coun Duggins, and his Labour colleagues, blamed the coalition government for the funding crisis and claimed the council had seen a 27 per cent cut in grants since austerity was introduced.

All councillors - both the Labour majority and small Conservative contingent - voted the cuts plan through.

The Tories had tabled a living wage amendment calling for low-paid workers to get a large pay increase - but supported the original budget after the idea was rejected.

Other plans to emerge included all council workers being awarded a pay rise for the first time in four years.

Their one per cent wage increase will come at the same time as around 800 more jobs are cut from the council, on top of the 800 already gone. Bosses said they hoped to avoid compulsory redundancies.

They had also hoped for a two per cent rise in council tax for households across the city.

But the freeze was put in place after it emerged a rise of anything over 0.9 per cent would have triggered a referendum, under plans from communities minister Eric Pickles.

A small increase in police and fire precepts are still planned.

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