Essex Councils Could Get Cash Boost

Five local authorities in Essex will qualify for extra funding from the Government by freezing or reducing their council tax this year.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has set aside £650 million to offer a grant worth 2.5% of council tax to those authorities which do not impose a rise on residents in April.

He released a list of 133 authorities nationally - including five in Essex - which have so far signalled their intention to avoid a rise, despite a tough funding settlement which the Local Government Association calculates will leave councils in England with a £6.5 billion shortfall.

According to the Department for Communities and Local Government Basildon, Braintree, Colchester, Harlow and Southend-on-Sea are planning to freeze rates.

Mr Pickles hailed these and other authorities which are reducing costs as "can-do councils''.

"I welcome the news that already over 130 'can-do councils' are planning to take part in the Government's £650 million council tax freeze initiative,'' said Mr Pickles.
"This shows that local authorities can keep taxes down and protect frontline services.''