Two councils that have previously announced that they will be combining management teams have announced that they will both be freezing Council Tax this year.
South Norfolk and Breckland councils have been fighting Local Government Reorganisation on the basis that a shared-services approach can deliver all the savings but without the expense and disruption of forced structural change and they have proved it can be done by pegging the tax rise to zero.
South Norfolk Councillors chose to freeze Council Tax for the second time in three years joining Breckland, which had previously agreed that Council Tax would be held last month. Breckland already charges the lowest Council Tax of any district council in England (£64.05 on a Band D property.)
At South Norfolk, officials had recommended an increase of 1.84% to allow reserves to be increased to make future years easier but the leader Cllr John Fuller characterised that approach as a 'confidence trick' on the electorate.
"Two years ago, we were one of only around six councils in the country to freeze Council Tax. I'm proud that we have been able to recommend it again for the second time in three years. We have lived within our means with a balanced budget and now it is time to help our residents balance their budgets with a Council Tax freeze. It would be a confidence trick to increase reserves now just to peg council tax before elections next year."
At Breckland, the leader Cllr William Nunn announced a tax freeze in anticipation of the savings flowing from the Shared Services approach.
"We have set officials aggressive targets to cut costs whilst maintaining service levels. Looking ahead, combining the best of Breckland and South Norfolk councils will deliver the required savings whilst allowing a more robust service delivery plans. It's the best-of-both approach and shows that the Government's reorganisation plans were an expensive distraction from the business of making councils live within their means and passing on the resulting savings to residents"