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Local authorities in England are freezing their council tax this year, according to the annual council tax survey from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA).
This freeze in council tax levels comes on the back of a Government incentive fund of £650 million to encourage councils to maintain last year’s council tax levels.
The average Band D English council tax bill is expected to be £1,438.87, a marginal reduction of 35 pence on last year.
This fall reflects the fact that some local authorities have confirmed that they will be cutting their council tax levels. A handful have also seen slight increases thanks to increased demands from town and parish councils, not eligible for any Government funding.
On average, Government allocations to councils have fallen by 9.9 per cent compared to last year. When considered alongside the council tax freeze, this has led to an average reduction in budgets, year to year, of 5.5 per cent. Councils are responding with a continuing programme of economies as well as cuts in both services and jobs.
CIPFA's analysis of emerging budgets shows that a significant proportion of budget reductions are being directed towards 'back-office' activities. Two thirds of councils plan cuts of between 5 per cent and 20 per cent to finance, human resources and information technology departments’ budgets.
Front-line services, however, also face significant reductions. Cuts of more than 10 per cent are reported for a range of services, including libraries, leisure and economic development.
Councils' Chief Finance Officers (CFOs) have expressed significant concerns about the high levels of risk associated with the implementation and delivery of these tough budgets.
Encouragingly, nearly 60 per cent of CFOs report that plans for further challenging budgets in 2012/13 are fully or largely developed. Despite considerable short term dilemmas, it is clear that councils are working hard to lay plans for the medium term.
Steve Freer, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy said:
‘Councils have responded positively to the Government’s offer of funding to enable council tax freezes. The Government and councils have a shared interest in avoiding a public relations disaster of local people paying more for reduced services. Public attention is likely to continue to focus on the service and job cuts which councils determine in order to balance their budgets.'
CIPFA press office
T: 020 7543 5600
1. The survey results, upon which this release is based, will be updated regularly on our website. The site also contains further information to assist in understanding the council tax change: www.cipfastats.net
2. The average council tax demand on a “band D” property comprises three basic elements:
These elements are made up as follows:
Make-up of the band “D” bill
change over previous year (negatives in brackets)
band "D" average bill
Band "D" average bill
Parish / community council precept
Local demand of billing authority
England (excluding London)
England & Wales
3. These analyses are based on responses received from 80 per cent (278 authorities) of billing authorities (80 per cent in England and 73 per cent in Wales) and 98 per cent (96 authorities) of precepting authorities. When all councils have set their budgets, (by 11 March) the final outcome is not expected to change significantly.
4. The Government reserves the right to direct an authority to set a lower budget requirement if it considers that the Council Tax or the budget requirement has been increased excessively. Last year, the police authorities of Greater Manchester and Nottinghamshire were nominated for capping in 2011/12. This year, the Government Spending Review has allocated a £650m fund to help local authorities to implement a council tax freeze in England in 2011/12. Where an authority does not increase its basic amount of council tax in 2011/12 compared with 2010/11, it will be eligible to receive a grant equivalent to a 2.5 per cent increase in its 2010/11 Band D figure multiplied by the latest available tax base figure.
5. Rounding errors, which sum to no more than one unit, may occur in the tables.
6. Where figures are confirmed in the analyses, it should be noted that the Government could still cap individual authorities at a later date.
7. Full survey results will be available at the end of March. For advance copies telephone: 020 8667 1144 and ask for “Council Tax Demands & Precepts Statistics 2011-12”. Spreadsheet price £250.00 (+ VAT).
8. In February 2011, CIPFA published a Local Authority Budget survey investigating the scale of cutbacks in services that councils intended to make, in the wake of the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review and proposed financial settlement.
CIPFA, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, is the professional body for people in public finance. Our 14,000 members work throughout the public services, in national audit agencies, in major accountancy firms, and in other bodies where public money needs to be effectively and efficiently managed. As the world’s only professional accountancy body to specialise in public services, CIPFA’s portfolio of qualifications are the foundation for a career in public finance. They include the benchmark professional qualification for public sector accountants as well as a postgraduate diploma for people already working in leadership positions. They are taught by our in-house CIPFA Education and Training Centre as well as other places of learning around the world. We also champion high performance in public services, translating our experience and insight into clear advice and practical services. They include information and guidance, courses and conferences, property and asset management solutions, consultancy and interim people for a range of public sector clients. Globally, CIPFA shows the way in public finance by standing up for sound public financial management and good governance. We work with donors, partner governments, accountancy bodies and the public sector around the world to advance public finance and support better public services.