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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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South Lakeland District Council eyes tax freeze in bid to help residents

A COUNCIL is hoping to give residents a helping hand this year by freezing its share of the council tax.

South Lakeland District Council hopes to freeze its portion of the fee from April. If approved, it will be the third year in a row that the authority has not increased its duty.

SLDC leader, Councillor Peter Thornton, yesterday said he hoped the move – which will be put before the full council on February 28 – would offer householders extra financial stability for the 2013/14 year.

He said: “This is difficult for us but it’s also difficult for the residents of South Lakeland – we are trying to help them balance their books as well.

“For every £1 that we take from their pockets is £1 that residents don’t spend in local businesses.”

Number crunchers at SLDC had calculated that increasing council tax by 1.95 per cent would have netted the authority just under £160,000.

The government said any authority hoping to increase the bill by more than two per cent would have to hold a referendum.

Councils which freeze the rate will be rewarded with a government grant. Cllr Thornton told the Evening Mail: “We have got some big challenges ahead. We’ve got to look at everything we do and provide. But while the additional income would have helped us, we feel the money is best left in the pockets of residents and businesses in this area at the moment.”

The news comes just a week after Cumbria County Council announced it hopes to agree a zero per cent increase on its share of the bill for the year ahead – despite having to find more than £24m in savings.

Meanwhile, Copeland Borough Council’s executive committee met on Tuesday and agreed to recommend a 1.9 per cent council tax increase – just below the two per cent referendum threshold. Copeland’s final budget and corporate plan will be presented at a meeting of the council on February 21.

Barrow Borough Council is set to increase its council tax share by 1.9 per cent. Cumbria police is to increase its share by 1.95 per cent.

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