COUNCIL tax looks set to be frozen for another year.
Kirklees Council yesterday revealed that the Government would give it £150m in grants next year.
Officials believe the figure will allow council tax to be frozen for a second year in a row. The Government has announced grant incentives to councils which decide to freeze or reduce their council tax next year.
Earlier this year Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem councillors agreed a three-year deal to cut annual running costs from £352m to £313m by 2013-14.
Yesterday’s funding announcement means officials are confident they can stick to the plan without having to make even deeper cuts.
Kirklees director of resources David Smith said: “There is now some work to do to go through the specific grants and the make-up of the settlement, but the overall figure is in line with our expectations, and means we need to continue with our programme to reduce the size of the council and develop services in a way which is sustainable.
“The announcement also vindicates our decision to begin looking at our innovation and efficiency programme when we did.”
Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem and Green councillors are meeting this month to negotiate the Kirklees budget for 2012-13.
A final decision will be made in February.
Residents can have a say on the budget by visiting www.kirklees.gov.uk/community/yoursay/youchoose.asp
Mr Smith said: “The tool will allow people to look at balancing our budget, see our current thinking and pass on their own priorities for proposed spending on different service areas.”
The consultation is open until December 28.
Kirklees leader Clr Mehboob Khan warned that – despite yesterday’s news – times were tough for councils.
He said: “We already know that local government is the most efficient part of the public sector and has done most to improve and make savings, but by combining this settlement with the other measures announced in the Autumn Statement – for example pay freezes – the local government sector is again bearing the brunt of the Government cuts.”
The statement makes clear that the next spending review will be as difficult as the current one, so we will continue to have pressure on our services.
“It is vital that we keep lobbying for measures which will allow us to create the conditions for businesses, for example by keeping the current distribution of business rates, to thrive while having enough grant to continue supporting our vulnerable groups and reducing inequalities in health, wealth and opportunity.”
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