Council tax freeze for 2013-14

At least 230 councils in England have announced that they are to freeze their council tax rates for 2013-14, the Communities and Local Government Department (DCLG) has revealed.

The freeze in council tax has come after 257 local authorities have accepted the government's offer of a grant. Out of a potential 421 local authorities including 15 fire and 12 police authorities, the 257 who have accepted the offer will pledge a freeze in tax throughout 2013 -14.

The news will be gratefully received by many, as the grant has even allowed some authorities to reduce the amount of council tax it charges.

Those feeling the greatest benefits however are residents of the Cotsworld District Council, who announced its decision in February to reduce its total council tax bill by 5%. Described as the biggest reduction in the country, the local authority received praise from local government minister, Brandon Lewis for their efforts.

In an independent poll suggested that when asked to either agree or disagree with the statement: “I would be happy to pay more council tax if it helped my local council maintain current levels of service”, 64% disagreed. And yet in february a study published results showing that four out of five local councils wish to have full control over setting the council tax bills in 2014. Instead they must seek approval for rises that exceed 2%.

It is hoped that the £450 million set aside by the government, will free reluctant residents from paying more, whilst also providing local authorities with the necessary funding.

Despite the offer from the government for a 1% funding rise in exchange for a freeze in prices, it is expected that many will refuse the grant. Instead it is expected that many local authorities will argue that the necessary rise in funding is above the 1% on offer, with an average increase being closer to 1.1%.

With taxes looking as though they are set to increase for many residents, local government secretary Eric Pickles has announced that local authorities will allow people to pay their council tax bills over a year instead of 10 months.

"As council tax bills starting landing on doormats in the next few weeks, people will discover they can now pay online or set up their direct debit payment plans for 12 months instead of the old 10," he said.

"This important change will help local taxpayers safeguard their family finances by lowering their payments for 10 months by about £24 with just a simple phone call."