Crackdown on excessive council tax hikes

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Local authorities (LAs) that implement excessive council tax rises face a government crackdown, which could result in rebates for local taxpayers.

Local government minister, John Healey, told the House of Commons earlier today that eight LAs face action after increasing residents' council tax “excessively”. He said: “The government is sending a clear message to all authorities - if you set an excessive increase in council tax, you can expect tough action from us to protect taxpayers."

As a result, Lincolnshire Police Authority will be forced to reduce council tax in 2008/09 with residents re-billed in due course. In addition, Cheshire, Leicestershire and Warwickshire Police Authorities, have been told they cannot increase council tax in 2009/10 and 2010/11 by more than 3%. However, council taxpayers in these areas will not see their bills changed this year.

Finally, residents in Bedfordshire, Norfolk and Surrey Police Authorities, and in Portsmouth City Council, are also to be protected from council tax rises in future years. Healey says action is also being taken against these four authorities to “restrict their scope for council tax increases in future years”. This includes proposing notional budgets against which budget and council tax levels will be measured in any future comparisons.

Healey added: "There is no excuse for excessive increases in council tax, and authorities should be in no doubt that the government will use its full range of capping powers to deal with excessive increases and protect council tax payers in future years."

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