In a powerful speech yesterday the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles gave a strong message to councils planning to reject the offer to fund a Council Tax freeze for the coming financial year.

He said:

"Today is Blue Monday – officially the most depressing day of the year, as people look ahead to months of chilly weather and paying back their Christmas bills.

This year, it will be tough for many people – facing pay freezes at work, be it in the public or private sector, as well as a rising cost of living.

This is why it's essential in February and March, as town hall budgets are set, that councils sign up to the council tax freeze.

It's practical help every councillor can offer to their ward constituents. A vote against the council tax freeze is a vote for punishing tax-rises. Local taxpayers will remember that decision next time they cast their vote at the ballot box.

Councillors have a moral duty to sign up to keep down the cost of living – anything less is a kick in the teeth to hard-working, decent taxpayers."