The Chancellor’s promise of a council tax freeze has been dismissed as “showboating” by a leading Brighton and Hove Green councillor.
Jason Kitcat, Brighton and Hove City Council cabinet member for finance, said that he would though study the details before reaching a final view.
He had told the council’s opposition Conservative group leader, Councillor Geoffrey Theobald, only last week that he was planning rises of 3.5 per cent in the coming few years.
But in response to George Osborne’s speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester yesterday Councillor Kitcat said: “According to the Treasury, the government will be sending full details of this proposed grant to councils in the coming weeks.
“We will study those details carefully before coming to any final view.
“Meanwhile the coalition government continues to attack council finances and slash benefits with severe consequences for everyone who depends on public services.
“We won’t be distracted by Mr (Eric) Pickles’ showboating for the Tory faithful at the Conservatives’ annual conference.
“We are focused on exploring all options for protecting frontline services in discussions with all parties, the unions and the community and voluntary sector.
“If the government truly believed in localism they wouldn’t be using these central funds to try and control local government.”
Councillor Kitcat added: “Raising tax won’t be financially detrimental.
“In fact, it seems now that the freeze in grant this year is less generous than before.
“The trade-off is this: a 3.5 per cent tax increase hits our hard working residents in the pocket but raises about £1.1 million more for protecting services which are going to be dramatically squeezed by the raft of government cuts and changes to benefits.
“If we go for a freeze then residents get a bit of respite worth £52 a year for a band D property.
“But we get less cash and it’s one-off. The overall tax base gets further and further behind inflation making catching up in the future harder, especially whilst increases are capped or, as proposed, subject to expensive referenda.
“Ultimately the choice before this city is, do you think £1 a week more on your council tax is worth protecting services for the young, elderly and vulnerable in our communities?”