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Wyre Forest residents asked to ponder new offer to freeze council tax
6:40am Monday 13th January 2014 in News
TAXPAYERS in Wyre Forest could yet see their rates frozen for another year - despite council leaders having previously pushed for an increase.
Wyre Forest district councillors are asking the public whether or not the authority should stick to its plan to raise council tax, for the first time in four years, by 1.94 per cent from April or accept a new grant announced by the Government to encourage local authorities not to increase bills.
In November, councillors said they would not continue to freeze the council tax in 2014/15 as extra savings would need to made to cover a funding "black hole" when the Government's contribution ended.
Now, however, Whitehall has offered local authorities a grant equal to one per cent of its council tax.
District council leader, Conservative John Campion, said the majority of Wyre Forest residents had supporting the planned increase - which would add just £3.83 to bills this year - when consulted last September but added: "The Government announced its funding plans just before Christmas.
"These include a commitment to include a one per cent council tax freeze grant on an ongoing basis rather than just for two years. This ongoing funding is to encourage council to rethink their position and freeze council tax rather than increase it.
"Bearing this in mind, we have options to consider. We would continue with our current proposals for a small increase of nearly two per cent in 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17.
"We could freeze council tax for both 2014/15 and 2015/16 which would mean the council would need to reduce spending on services by a further £110,000 each year or we could freeze council tax for 2014/15 only and then plan to increase by just under two per cent in 2015/16, when we may know more about the Government's future funding plans. This would mean we would only have to fund annual further savings of £50,000.
"We are asking residents' views on these options by asking them to complete our short consultation available on the council's website and at the Hub customer service centre at Kidderminster Town Hall."
The extra savings needed would be on top of an unprecedented £2 million over the next two years already announced for cash-strapped authority.
The closing date for the consultation is Wednesday, January 29, at 5pm and the questionnaire can be found at wyreforestdc.gov.uk
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