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Devon freezes its council tax for third year

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 23, 2013

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Devon County Council is to draw down a £3 million Whitehall windfall after agreeing to freeze council tax for the third year running.

John Hart, leader of the Conservative-run authority, confirmed he would be proposing no change to the levy as families and pensioners are being hit by the rising cost of living.

For the third year in a row, Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles will give councils a cash bonus worth a 1% hike in council tax if they hold down the charge.

However, councils that raise the levy by 2% or higher will have to hold a local referendum to get consent for the change.

Devon County Council has opted against generating up to £6 million from tax rises – or what a 2% increase would have brought in – and instead plumped for a freeze, for which it will receive a grant of £3 million.

The proposal will be put to the authority's budget meeting on February 21. Mr Hart said: "Everywhere you look prices are going up. But we have many pensioners living in Devon and many families trying to get by on lower incomes.

"I do not want Devon County Council to add to their burden. I believe we can deliver a budget that will maintain services while not asking our residents to pay a penny more."

He added: "Our judgement is that it is better to accept the £3 million, continue our programme of making efficiencies and saving money and not have to ask our Devon taxpayers to contribute a penny more for our services.

"We promised the people of Devon when we took over in 2009 that we would ensure they got value for money.

"We started cutting costs straight away. We froze most job recruitment, reduced our payroll without major redundancies and slashed bureaucracy and red tape. We did that whilst maintaining essential frontline services and becoming more efficient and businesslike."

Devon County Council's chunk of the council bill – which will include district, police and fire authority precepts – will stay at £1,116 from April for the average household.

Neighbouring Cornwall Council, a Tory-led coalition, is poised to shun the hand-out and is proposing a bills hike of 1.97% this year, a £25 rise to about £1,268. Both go to the polls in May during a round of local elections.

Read more from Exeter Express and Echo

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4 comments

  • timplymouth  |  January 23 2013, 9:40PM

    Would you accept a one-off bonus in exchange for giving up a permanent pay raise? That is what the council are doing. Creating a hole in their budget for years to come just seems silly.

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  • vulcan  |  January 23 2013, 8:35PM

    Some people still believe we live in the 1970's dont they Sid, believing the right wing anti public sector rubbish.

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  • LHPlymouth  |  January 23 2013, 2:30PM

    Interesting... Lets see what happens in 2014 when the massive incinerator in Plymouth is operating. You can bet that Devon, Torbay and the rest of SW Devon will have no increase in council tax but you watch Plymouth's rise...and yet you are all told how you will benefit from this disgracefully agreed upon incinerator. Think again!! We have to pay back the PFI funding for starters. Plymouth is bearing the brunt of this - especially those living within metres from it - and yet many still believe its for our benefit. Only people benefiting are MVV and their profits are going back out to Germany...or to ruin others peoples lives in other parts of the country if they have their way. Plymouth will NEVER reap any financial benefits and your council tax will never show any benefit from it either Devon Council had the sense to refuse the Ash site at Buckfastleigh and the proposed incinerator at Ivybridge.......they LISTEN to their 'people'

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  • SidneyNuff  |  January 23 2013, 9:29AM

    This is not good news, this is bad news. We pay a huge amount to keep an army of public sector workers in nice little jobs they can never be sacked from no matter how useless they are. We pay to have our streets cleaned, are they cleam, NO. Why not, because we also pay the council to bring druggies, dossers and alcoholics into the area, we pay the council to give them tea and sympathy sessions then we pay the price when they are let out onto our streets and we pay for their accomodation. CUT THE COUNCIL TAX BILL NOW.

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