Surrey County Council puts up tax despite government grant
COUNCIL tax is set to rise after Surrey County Council went against government advice to freeze bills.
Officers have decided to reject a one-off government grant of £14 million in favour of increasing the amount they charge residents.
It means the tax amount householders pay to the county council – which accounts for the majority of council tax bills – is set to rise by 2.99 per cent in April, or £33.38 per year for an average Band D home.
Defending the move, the council claims accepting the grant would have meant "short-term gain for long-term pain".
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Surrey County Council leader David Hodge said: "If we took the money now, in 2014-15 we would have to put up council tax by 5 per cent.
"The money we get would be the equivalent of a 2.5 per cent rise, and so we would have to double it the following year.
"We have saved £130 million over the last two years and we are on course to save £330m by 2016.
"Finances are tight, and we would have been letting the residents of Surrey down if we had accepted the £14 million.
"Looking at schools alone, we've got to provide 14,000 extra school places for children over the next five years. This isn't about us wanting to spend more money; we've already made huge savings from our budget."
Reigate and Banstead Borough Council is freezing its share of council tax at last year's rate, but Surrey Police, which also takes a share, has not set its rates yet.