Caps could be on for tax bills

DEPUTY Prime Minister John Prescott is today believed to be considering re-introducing council tax capping, as bills are set to go through the roof next year.

By Paul Geater

DEPUTY Prime Minister John Prescott is today believed to be considering re-introducing council tax capping, as bills are set to go through the roof next year.

But he's unlikely to take that action against Suffolk County Council which is proposing an 18.5 per cent rise.

His office is considering taking the action against a number of local authorities in the south of England, which are proposing rises well over 20 per cent.


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In London council tax payers are facing even larger increases – in some outer London boroughs rises of more than 27 per cent are being proposed.

Suffolk's is one of the highest increases proposed by shire counties in England – but it is not out of step with other similar authorities.

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East Sussex County Council is proposing a rise of 19.6 per cent, with West Sussex proposing an identical increase to Suffolk's – 18.5 per cent.

Hertfordshire's rise is going to be 18.2 per cent while Surrey and Devon are putting up their council tax bills by 17.9 per cent.

The government has been embarrassed by the revelations about council tax rises – last week Labour Party chairman Dr John Reid told the Evening Star that this year's settlement had been generous to Suffolk County council.

The government has increased its grant to the council by 6.2 per cent – but at the same time has required County Hall to take on more work especially in social services.

Deputy council leader and the leader of the Liberal Democrats at County Hall Peter Monk was not surprised to hear that other councils were facing similar rises.

"I think the government's settlement for this year has been very poorly thought out.

"Authorities like ours have been penalised while those in other parts of the country – especially in the north and midlands – aren't seeing such huge rises," he said.

County Durham – which includes Mr Blair's Sedgefield seat – is putting up its council tax bill by 9 per cent and Kingston Upon Hull, where Mr Prescott is MP, is putting its bills up by 10 per cent.

"I suppose there is an argument for helping more deprived parts of the country by giving them more – but the way it has been done this year does appear to penalise authorities like Suffolk very badly," said Mr Monk.

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