Headlines: February 26th, 2009

Town halls are revising down this year’s council tax rises to help hard-pressed residents. In January the Local Government Association estimated a 3.5 per cent rise, but it has now revised the figure to 3.0 per cent. This is the lowest rise in over a decade.

A 3 per cent increase on the 2008/09 average council tax bill per household would bring the average bill for 2009/10 to 1,414 pounds. The increase would be 79p a week.

A survey by the LGA shows that, following consultation with local people, councils are reducing council tax rises to keep bills as low as possible for residents who are struggling with the effects of the recession. Rises are being held down in spite of reductions in council income and a rise in the number of people and businesses turning to councils to provide help and support during the recession.

LGA research also shows that council income is projected to fall by 2.5bn pounds next year and that there will be a significant uptake in services. More people are applying for housing benefit, homelessness is increasing, there is a rising demand for debt advice, additional support is needed by the unemployed and small companies need help to stay afloat.

Cllr Margaret Eaton, Chairman of the LGA, said: “Money is tight for everyone and nobody likes paying more council tax and that is why town halls are making enormous efforts to keep bills down. Councils are responding to the fact that people are feeling the impact of the recession.”