Page last updated at 12:47 GMT, Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Council tax bills set for 'lowest rise' in April

Cash
Two separate surveys suggest council tax rises will be low

The average cost of Band D council tax bills in England for 2010/2011 is set to increase by the lowest percentage since the tax was introduced in 1993.

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) and local councils predict rises below 2%.

A CIPFA survey suggests the average bill will be about £1,438.72.

Most Scottish authorities are expected to maintain a freeze. But bills in Wales are predicted to rise 3.6% to an average of £1,125.77.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said it also expected minimal increases in England.

CIPFA - the body that represents accountants working in public services - said the average increase would be about 1.8% - about £25 extra for a typical Band D household.

AVERAGE BAND D COUNCIL TAX RISES IN ENGLAND AND WALES
Region 2009-10 2010-11 Increase
(%) ()
East Midlands 1,454.43 1,487.18 2 .3% 32.75
East of England 1,451.09 1,480.69 2 .0% 29.60
London 1,308.23 1,309.79 0 .1% 1.56
North East 1,478.78 1,511.71 2 .2% 32.93
North West 1,441.70 1,466.92 1 .7% 25.22
South East 1,436.46 1,468.88 2 .3% 32.42
South West 1,462.36 1,498.64 2 .5% 36.28
Wales 1,086.43 1,125.77 3 .6% 39.34
West Midlands 1,386.82 1,411.96 1 .8% 25.14
Yorks & Humber 1,379.12 1,400.49 1 .5% 21.37

The joint BBC and CIPFA survey analysed the council tax settlements of 179 billing authorities and 84 authorities with the power to instruct others to collect the council tax on their behalf in England and Wales.

CIPFA's head of policy, Ian Carruthers, said that although politicians had listened to calls to "avoid large increases", financial pressures meant councils might still have to cut certain services.

A separate report by the Local Government Authority (LGA) predicts a smaller rise of 1.6% to £1,194.

The LGA surveyed the draft budgets of more than 100 councils, police and fire authorities to come up with its figures.

If councils in London are taken out of the equation, than the average increase is predicted to be 1.9% by the LGA and 2.1% by CIPFA.

If the LGA's predictions are correct, once inflation is taken to account, many households would be expected to see a reduction in their overall council tax bills.

Rise in Band D council tax

LGA vice-chairman Sir Jeremy Beecham said councils had tried to do all they could to keep rises to a minimum because of the current economic climate but "tough decisions" had to be made.

Forthcoming elections are also believed to have been a factor in some calculations.

However, Matthew Elliot, the chief executive of the Taxpayers' Alliance, which campaigns for lower taxes, said council tax was still "rising to the highest level ever".

The DCLG spokesman said councils would receive an extra £76.3bn grant in April and action would be taken against any which imposed "excessive" increases.

Public sector union Unison said the human cost of keeping council tax down was "huge".

General secretary Dave Prentis said: "It means hitting front-line services hard, shutting care homes for the elderly and disabled, making cuts to home care, to libraries and leisure centres, and cutting services for children."



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SEE ALSO
Councils plan low tax increases
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