Council tax hike to hit 50% of households

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles still claims real-terms cut since 2010

Nearly half of households face a council tax rise this year as town halls prepare to increase bills by up to 7.6 per cent.

The average rise across England will be less than one per cent. However, more than 140 authorities have turned down a Government offer to freeze their council tax and have opted instead to charge householders more money.

Government figures yesterday showed that the average band D council tax will be £1,456 in 2013-14, a rise of 0.8 per cent compared with £1,444 in 2012-13.

The average will be £1,302 in London, £1,421 in metropolitan areas, £1,486 in unitary authority areas and £1,510 in shire districts.

Councils imposing the highest rises for 2013/14 are Breckland in Norfolk (7.6 per cent), North Dorset (4.8 per cent), East Lindsey in Lincolnshire (4.4 per cent) and South Cambridgeshire (4.3 per cent), and Exeter (4 per cent). They avoid triggering local referendums because the increases are small in cash terms.

The largest bills to be landing on Band D doorsteps will be in Rutland (£1,701), Hartlepool (£1,686), Kingston-upon-Thames (£1,683), Newark & Sherwood (£1,657) and Central Bedfordshire (£1,652).

Some 131 Conservative councils - around seven out of 10 - are freezing their tax, compared with 51 Labour - about half - and 10 Liberal Democrat.

The Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, said this year's rise amounts to a real-terms cut in council tax, which has fallen by 9.7 per cent in real terms under the coalition Government, once inflation has been taken into account.

But Hilary Benn, the shadow Communities Secretary, said: “It is astonishing Eric Pickles is trying to claim a success when over two million people on the very lowest incomes won't be getting their council tax frozen.”

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