Conservatives are calling on the Green Administration of Brighton & Hove City Council to budget for a council tax freeze following the announcement at the weekend by Chancellor, George Osborne, that the Government will be providing £270 million in funding for councils to do so. This will be the third year in a row that the Coalition Government has provided council tax freeze funding.
Last year, the Green Administration wanted to turn down the £3 million freeze funding that was on offer from the Government, choosing instead to try and raise council tax by 3.5%. Fortunately, they were forced to back down at the Budget Council meeting when the Conservatives received unexpected backing from the Labour Group to agree a freeze.
Not to be put off by one failure, Green Council Leader – Jason Kitcat – stated back in July that he would once again be seeking to impose a 3.5% council tax increase on residents in 2013. However, as part of George Osborne’s announcement yesterday, any proposed rises of above 2% would have to be approved through a citywide referendum. Last year’s unofficial referendum by the Argus saw more than two-thirds of respondents reject a 3.5% increase. Conservatives have consistently called for a freeze in each of the last 3 years.
Group Leader, Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald, said: “Today, I am calling on Cllr. Kitcat to instruct council officers to budget for a council tax freeze using the Government money on offer. I hope that he is not foolish enough to press ahead with his 3.5% plans that would trigger a costly referendum but, if he does, I am confident that public opinion would remain firmly against him. I am also urging the Labour Group to get off the fence and back us again. This issue should be above party politics and residents need their elected representatives to be on their side in these tough economic times.”
Group Finance Spokesperson, Cllr. Ann Norman, added: “I am delighted that the Coalition Government has found the money to enable local authorities to freeze council tax for the third year in a row – equivalent to a real terms decrease of 11%. This is in stark contrast to the previous Labour Government who doubled council tax whilst they were in power. We all recognize the financial pressure that the Coalition Government is working under and so this help for hard-working families and pensioners is hugely appreciated.”