Freezing council tax could cost more later

THE Government’s promise to freeze council tax bills next year should save every Calderdale household about £25.

But it could prompt a more hefty hike in 2013.

Councillors managed to avoid a tax rise this year – leaving Band C property owners paying £1,090 for council services and £162 for police and fire services.

The finance plan approved by Calderdale Council this week, assumes a 2 or 3 per cent rise in council tax bills in each of the next three years and cuts in Government grants of up to six per cent.

Council leader Janet Battye said the effects of avoiding a council tax rise for a second year were being studied carefully.

“No one wants an increase but there are longer term implications which we need to assess,” she said.

Councillors have begun working on detailed spending plans for 2012/13 based in part on a huge survey carried out last year on what residents regard as priorities.

“There will be further public consultation this time around but not on quite the same scale,” said Coun Battye (Lib-Dem, Calder).

“Ideas will be put to local ward forums.”

Deputy leader Tim Swift (Lab, Town) said caution was needed.

“If we avoid a council tax rise next year, there will have to be a bigger rise the following year or we would have to save about £2 million – it is a bit of a poisoned chalice,” he said.

Head of finance Pete Smith said there was more uncertainty than ever given the major policy changes at national level.