Leeds council tax set to rise as cuts bite

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Leeds householders have been handed a council tax bombshell just two weeks before Christmas.

Plans to increase the local levy by two per cent next year, following a three-year freeze, were revealed last night by Leeds city council. Another 274 jobs at the authority are also set to be slashed to cut running costs.

Council leader coun Keith Wakefield admitted it was a “dire financial situation”. He said: “We cannot continue to freeze council tax as it reduces our income to the point where it threatens our ability to support even the services we must provide by law.”

The current council tax for a band D property in Leeds is £1,316.39. A two-percent rise would equate to £26. The council has suffered Government grant reductions of £94m over the past three years, with £36m to be cut next year,

Councillor Wakefield said: “We have shouldered our share of significant funding reductions.

“This is a dire financial situation and no-one wants to reduce or stop providing services but we’ve reached the point where we have to start thinking the unthinkable - all options have to be on the table.”

Coun John Procter, deputy leader of the Conservative group, last night branded the tax increase plan “staggering” - and criticised the council’s refusal of another Government tax-freeze grant that would have covered half the hike.

Coun Stewart Golton, leader of the Lib Deb group, added the authority was “making the burden on families even greater by hiking up household bills”.

Two fifths of local authorities rejected the Government’s freeze-funding grant this year, according to official statistics.

Coun Wakefield had previously described the sweetener-grant as “financial dictatorship”.