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Leader’s Blog: council tax – a pragmatic balance

Published 28 January 2013

There’s been an awful lot of coverage in the past couple of days about councils who are planning to raise council tax by 1.99 per cent for 2013/14.

Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, Councillor Ian Hudspeth

The Government has said that any council proposing to put up council tax by two per cent or more would need to hold a local referendum. A 1.99 per cent rise is therefore the most a council can raise the tax without a local poll having to take place.

We at Oxfordshire County Council are proposing a 1.99 per cent rise. After two years of accepting the Government’s Council Tax Freeze grant we felt that this year we had to look to the future and make sure we had the funds to avoid hugely difficult cuts to services.

Every year that a Government freeze grant is accepted simply stores up problems for future years with the council tax base never expanding and reverting back to 2009/10 levels in reality.

Even with a 1.99 per cent rise, we’re having to save around £80m from 2013-2017.

A 1.99 per cent rise is the equivalent of around 44p per week or a packet of sweets. I hope the people of Oxfordshire will be able to see the pragmatic balance we are trying to strike and agreed that local choices should be allowed to be made on local priorities.

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