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WOLVES COUNCIL TAX FREEZE

17-02-2010

Wolverhampton Council has frozen Council Tax for the coming year - or at least that part of it the local authority controls - leaving householders in the most popular Band D category to pay £1464 per year. Here's Council leader Neville Patten's full statement released today.

We are recommending that Wolverhampton City Council’s part of the council tax this year is frozen. This will be the second lowest council tax change in the council’s history – and, I believe, the lowest in the region.

We have been able to deliver this through an efficiency drive of unprecedented scale to balance the books without dipping into reserves. As a result, we have reduced the burden of council tax on families who have been hit hard by the economic downturn. And we have done so while maintaining the quality of essential services and keeping compulsory redundancies to a minimum.

The freeze in council tax which we are recommending represents a realisation of our aspiration for residents in less than two years.

Nonetheless, in the forthcoming year, we still face pressures on our budget caused by the recession and increasing demands on our services. Demographic changes in our city are leading to greater demands on services for vulnerable adults and looked after children.

At the same time, the economic downturn has led to greater demands on services that deal with homelessness, drug abuse and mental health problems. To withstand these challenges, we will therefore be considering further savings of £9.1 million in 2010/2011, over and above the £17.8 million arising from the savings achieved in 2009/2010.

We will be holding the council’s most senior officers accountable for delivery of savings and will continue to monitor the budget situation very carefully to keep us on track.

Once again, the recommended budget aims to meet in full the effects of this year’s pay settlements, though we are assuming that next year pay will be frozen for most council staff. Provision has also been set aside to implement job evaluation, in line with the national agreement. The recommended budget also assumes general price inflation at 1.5 per cent except for utilities for which no inflationary increase has been included.

At the same time, investment in the city’s ambitious capital programme is set to continue over the coming year, despite continued pressures on available funding due to the economic downturn. We are about to embark on another year of investment in the Decent Homes programme to improve council housing and expect to close the deal on the exciting Building Schools for the Future programme very soon."

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