Council Tax set rise in Cambs but freeze in Herts

IT is a tale of two counties for council tax with Cambs residents facing a hike while rates in Herts are set to be frozen.

The 2.95 per cent precept increase was rubber-stamped by Cambridgeshire County Council’s cabinet on Tuesday despite central government wanting local authorities to freeze rates.

Residents of an average Band D property may have to fork out an extra �30.97 a year.

And both the county’s fire authority and police force are looking to raise their precepts at a total combined extra cost of �6.44 per year for a Band D property.

Cambridgeshire County Council has opted to increase tax, rather than accept a government payment offered to authorities, along with a claim that freezing council tax will support prosperity, jobs, education, and economic growth.

It says that claiming the one-off payment would lead to a bigger council tax hike in coming years and leave a multi-million budget hole.

The move will have to be approved by full council on February 21 along with the rest of the authority’s budget.

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Leader of the county council Cllr Nick Clarke said: “At the heart of this budget is the desire to do what is right for Cambridgeshire and our communities while meeting the challenging savings targets.

“We have listened closely to what residents have said and our proposals reflect our drive to promote Cambridgeshire as a place which is open for business and can lead the UK to recovery, while providing local jobs and prosperity.

“We are protecting the most vulnerable in our society by investing more in adult social care, while working harder to drive down savings, and work better with partners to improve the quality of life and health for residents.

“But it is a major challenge to make savings while investing where residents want us to.

“Putting up council tax is right for Cambridgeshire.

“The alternative is a massive multi-million-pound funding hole to fill in the future which would no doubt hit our most vulnerable residents.”

Tax in North Herts will stay at the same rates as 2010/11, and both the district and county councils are in line for substantial government grants.

Both North Hertfordshire District Council and Hertfordshire County Council are likely to retain the same precept for 2012-13 after both cabinets approved the move.

NHDC will receive a one-off payment equivalent to a 2.5 per cent council tax rise, which amounts to �247,000, and Hertfordshire County Council is in line for a �12.6m grant.

But both bodies’ decisions will have to be approved by respective full councils.

Cllr Terry Hone, NHDC’s deputy leader and portfolio holder for finance, said: “Council tax will have remained the same for three years.

“It’s something we are very proud of and I think we should congratulate ourselves for continuing to do so.

“The budget is not quite as calamitous, as far as we are concerned, as in previous years and could be in future years, because we have made those changes already.”

South Cambs District Council has also decided to freeze its council tax.

Hertfordshire Police Authority is yet to decide if it will increase its precept.