Freeze on council tax despite huge cuts in funding

North Yorkshire County Council is set to freeze council tax this year in a bid to keep down costs for householders who are facing difficult economic conditions.

Executive members are due to meet next week to make tough budget decisions in the light of the Government funding cuts. The council has to find £69m of savings over the next four years – the vast majority of it in the first two years.

The freezing of council tax will make budget choices even tougher, but the county council is anxious not to lay the burden on households already sruggling to make ends meet.

Leader of the council, County Coun John Weighell, said: “We understand how difficult things are for households and families at the present time and so we are proposing not to raise council tax.

“However, North Yorkshire is a low spending and low taxing council which has already made £60m of savings over the past five years. This leaves the authority with reduced scope for making savings through efficiency.

“Nevertheless, we are doing everything possible to make tough spending decisions while protecting frontline services and the most vulnerable people in our society.”

The county council has so far identified £54m of savings and remains confident that it will be able to find all necessary savings.

While it prepares a savings plan which will balance the books as well as protecting frontline services as much as possible, the council’s Executive will consider a one-off proposal to draw on reserves to plug the shortfall in the year ahead.

“This is a perfectly justifiable use of our reserves, though further painful decisions will still have to be made,” said County Coun Weighell.

Chief Executive, Richard Flinton, said: “We will continue to make savings in management, administration, better contracts and so on. Although it will not be possible to protect all front-line services, we hope this short-term use of the county council’s reserves will mean we can make the necessary savings over a longer period and so maintain the county’s high quality services to the fullest extent possible.”