Services: Council tax bills to freeze or fall

Although not part of the Budget, the Government announced yesterday that council tax is to be frozen or reduced in every local-authority area in England this year – the first year since the tax was introduced in 1993 that it has not increased.

The freeze was funded by £650m provided by the Department for Communities and Local Government to support councils which opted not to increase their bills.

Official statistics published yesterday show the average Band D council tax set by local authorities in England will remain at £1,439 for 2011/12 as a result of a 0 per cent increase on last year's council tax level. Some 378 councils have frozen the tax and 43 have reduced it.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: "We are determined to protect hard-working families and pensioners who have been squeezed for too long."