[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 4 December, 2003, 16:07 GMT
Council welcomes spending report
Devon pensioners protest
Devon pensioners have protested at county hall
Devon County Council has welcomed a report it claims backs its stance over council tax rises.

The Audit Commission has been investigating why the average council tax in England increased by 13%.

Devon's increase was nearly 18%, leading to widespread protests by pensioners who said they could not afford to pay.

The report blames the increases on government spending demands over schools, roads and the elderly as well as higher National Insurance contributions.

Although ministers have claimed government grants were well above inflation and blamed councillors for not budgeting properly, the report says the money received from Whitehall was "the single biggest determinant factor" in this year's increases.

A county council spokeswoman said: "The government's own inspectors have nailed the myth that profligate councils are driving up council tax.

"The Audit Commission report confirms the county council's well documented view that there needs to be root and branch reform of council tax."

HAVE YOUR SAY
My local council charges 900 per year to give me some of the worst rated schools in the country, street lights that don't work properly, and I'm still waiting for a wheelie bin after eight weeks!
John, UK

Earlier this year Devon complained that the region as a whole had received the second lowest level of government grant of any English region.

The report supports Devon's claim that resources were shifted to the Midlands and the North and away from councils in the South.

It also recommends that the government finds a more acceptable way of controlling council tax increases rather than the capping powers that ministers have threatened for next year's budgets.

Local Government Minister Nick Raynsford said the government was already doing much of what the commission recommended.

And a review of the balance between money raised locally and centrally in paying for councils was already under way.

But Teignbridge Liberal Democrat MP Richard Younger Ross has demanded Mr Raynsford should apologise to the county's tax-payers for saying the county council was to blame for this year's council tax increase and for misleading them.

Albert Venison, who has been campaigning against the rise with other pensioners in Devon, said: "It does not matter what happens in 2004, we cannot afford to pay any increase in council tax."




WATCH AND LISTEN
Albert Venison, Devon protest leader
"We cannot afford to pay any more money whatsoever"



SEE ALSO:
Council tax 'flaws' caused rises
04 Dec 03  |  Politics
Pensioner tax plan scrapped
18 Nov 03  |  Kent
Legion joins council tax fight
18 Oct 03  |  England
Prescott's council tax warning
29 Sep 03  |  Politics


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific