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Families spared hikes as councils freeze tax
FAMILIES have been spared further council tax hikes after four district councils agreed to freeze or cut their precepts.
Oxfordshire County Council, Thames Valley Police and Oxford City Council had already decided to raise their precepts by two per cent, but now West Oxfordshire, Vale of White Horse and Cherwell district councils have all decided to freeze their portion of the council tax.
South Oxfordshire District Council has decided to cut its precept by 2.5 per cent.
But district council precepts only make up a small fraction of the council tax bill, with County Hall’s stake making by far the largest dent.
West Oxfordshire District Council has decided to freeze council tax for the third year, meaning band D homes will pay £81.63 – the lowest in Oxfordshire.
Simon Hoare, cabinet member for resources, said: “It is fantastic news to have delivered a balanced budget that will deliver first-class services for our local communities.
“We have only been able to do this by reforming how the council operates and continuing to strive for efficiency and savings.”
Vale of White Horse District Council has agreed to freeze council tax for the third year, meaning band D residents will pay £116.69 a year.
Council leader Matthew Barber said: “Whereas many councils around the country are really struggling to balance their budgets, the measures that we put in place some time ago have helped to put us in a much more secure position.”
Cherwell District Council has frozen its precept for the fourth year at £123.50 for band D properties.
Ken Atack, lead member for financial management, said: “It is great news for Cherwell residents that we have managed to freeze council tax bills for the fourth consecutive year, keeping rates below inflation levels.”
But South Oxfordshire District Council has agreed to go further and reduce its precept by 2.5 per cent to £117.62 for band D properties.
David Dodds, cabinet member for finance, said: “Thanks to very careful management of our finances we can continue to make substantial sums available to improve our towns and community facilities across South Oxfordshire, while reducing the amount that residents pay for our first-class services at the same time.”
Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council agreed two per cent precept increases while announcing plans to make £51m cuts. County Hall, which has agreed a precept of £1,184.83 for band D properties, has pledged to cut £46m from its budget by 2017 and the city council £5.39m.
The Government capped county, police and district council precept rises at two per cent. Any increase above this requires a referendum.
Many town and parish councils, which are exempt from the Government-set two per cent maximum increase, have also increased their precepts.