Headlines: June 27th, 2008

Eight authorities are facing action after setting what the Local Government Minister, John Healey, has judged to be excessive council tax rises. One, Lincolnshire Police Authority, will have to set a new lower tax
rate this year and will have to re-bill local

In a Commons statement John Healey said,” The Government is sending a clear message to all authorities. If you set an excessive increase in council tax, you can expect tough action from us to protect taxpayers.”

For Cheshire, Leicestershire and Warwickshire Police Authorities this year’s tax levels will stay unchanged but the Government intends to limit their maximum council tax precept increases to three per
cent in each of the next two years. The authorities will have the chance to make representations before final decisions are reached on that limit.

Four other authorities – Bedfordshire, Norfolk and Surrey Police Authorities and Portsmouth City Council – will have their scope for council tax increaases restricted in future years. Notional budgets have been proposed against which their budgets and tax levels
will be measured in any future comparisons. The authorities have 21 days in which to challenge these before a final decision is taken.

Mr. Healey said he recognised that local councils generally had ensured they were not putting unecessary pressures on their local taxpayers and had ensured that for a Band D property the council tax increase
this years was 4 per cent, the lowest for 14 years and the second lowest ever. He added, “There is no excuse for excessive increases in council tax, and authorities should be in no doubt that the Government
will use its full range of capping powers to deal with excessive increases and protect council tax payers in future years.”