POLITICIANS have agreed to freeze council tax in Blackburn with Darwen.
But bills in the borough will still rise slightly because of Lancashire Police imposing a rise of just under two per cent for its portion of the tax.
It means an average band D property will pay £1,486.46 in 2014/15 without any extra parish council precept of up to £5. Last year’s figure was £1,483.42.
It comes after the Lancashire Telegraph revealed thousands of families were in serious debt to the council over unpaid tax and were facing visits from bailiffs.
The council’s executive member for finance, Coun Andy Kay, said they could not strain the pockets of hard-pressed residents and families.
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However he blasted the government for a ‘culture of cuts’ which he said took £685 from each resident in the area. He said: “It is a major condemnation of government policies when the Red Cross need to distribute aid.
“Thousands of our residents need the help of the foodbank due to hardship and hunger. We do not believe it would be fair or reasonable in addition to this government’s harsh treatment of our residents that we could fairly add another burden so we are not recommending the raising of council tax.”
However Conservative leader Mike Lee defended the attack and said: “It is because of the previous administration that the whole country now finds it difficult to pay council tax. There is no thought while spending who is ultimately going to pay for it.”
While Burnley has imposed a council tax rise of just under two per cent, Ribble Valley, Hyndburn, Chorley, Rossendale and Pendle froze their charges, as did the fire authority.
The government capped council tax at a maximum of a two per cent rise per council.
Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council leader Kate Hollern said the authority was facing up to cuts of £90million – 40 per cent of its budget – after Whitehall grant reductions.
The cuts include 500 council jobs being axed, old people’s homes shutting, children’s centres closing and leisure centre charges rising as hours reduce.