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Thurrock Council announces council tax freeze for this year
10:47am Thursday 13th February 2014 in News
THURROCK Council is set to freeze council tax this year, meaning the rate paid by residents will not change.
John Kent, leader of the council, made the announcement at a cabinet meeting last night.
The move is set to cost the council £400,000 but Mr Kent said the authority can afford not to charge residents more for its services because it "has been prudent over the last four years and built up sustainable reserves".
The freeze will "save" tax payers in Thurrock £1million.
Mr Kent said: "We have to make cuts, there’s no escaping that, but the government has now announced its grant will be the same as a one per cent council tax rise and - more importantly - that the money would be built into the base too.
"Effectively that means there’s a £400,000 difference for our budget between us asking for a two per cent rise and having a freeze."
He added: "Because we’ve been prudent over the last four years and built up sustainable reserves, I am proposing that – in the short term – we take that £400,000 from reserves asking officers to identify those savings that will be required for 2015/16 that can be brought forward to reduce the overall call on the budget over the coming 12 months.
"Although it’s £400,000 we have to find, it’s also around £1 million the hard-pressed council tax payers of Thurrock will now not have to find.
"People are facing a cost of living crisis as their heating bills are going up, their travel bills are going up, their food bills are going up – but if this is agreed by the full council, one thing that won’t be going up this year is Thurrock’s part of the council tax."
Residents could still be forced to pay slightly more from April, as the police authority are considering raising their share of council tax by 3.5 per cent.
Cabinet members agreed the freeze, calling the decision a "good gesture" to "cash-strapped residents".
On Twitter, Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price welcomed the announcement but said: "Welcome news after raising it last year for partisan reasons. Guess what this year we have elections. Do they think we are mugs?"
What do you think? Are you pleased the council is freezing tax? Or would you rather pay more for improved services? Let us know your thoughts! Comment below, tweet @ThurrockGazette or email email@example.com