Chancellor To Freeze Council Tax Again
George Osborne will pledge to ease the pressure of soaring inflation and stalling growth on households by moving to freeze council tax again.
The Chancellor is to announce funding to help local authorities hold the levy at its current level for a second year – saving the average family £72.
The step – to be paid for using around £800m of unspent cash from Whitehall departments – will be unveiled in Mr Osborne’s keynote speech to Conservative Party conference.
The Government cannot force councils to freeze bills, but last financial year it offered to make up the difference for those which limited spending rises to 2.5%.
As a result all local authorities in England either held or reduced council tax charges.
Amid calls for more focus on growth policies, he is also expected to allocate more immediate funding for infrastructure projects.
However, Mr Osborne will also reiterate the coalition’s determination to stick to tough deficit reduction targets.
Mr Osborne will say: “I wanted to help families and pensioners with the daily cost of living.”
He will also argue that the sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone makes it even more important for Britain to exercise fiscal discipline.
And he is expected to dismiss demands for a Plan B on spending cuts, but will say that does not mean ministers are “powerless” to boost growth.
Prime Minister David Cameron has already promised to “fire up the engines of the British economy” with proposals to boost house-building and help council tenants buy their homes.
As many as 200,000 extra homes and 400,000 jobs could be created under the twin-pronged strategy, he said.
The opening of the Conservative conference was marred by a TUC-organised mass protest against cuts, which saw around 30,000 people take to the streets.
Protesters snaking around the Manchester Central conference centre could be heard chanting: “David Cameron on your bike, we want a general strike.”