COUNCIL tax bills in Durham have been frozen for the fourth year running.
But they have come with a warning that further hardship could be on the way.
Durham County Council has announced the precept for 65,000 homes will remain the same, while raising the amount it invests in its plans to boost the economy, generate jobs and higher spending on adult social care.
The budget also outlines how the council needs to make increased savings of nearly £190million from 2011 to 2017.
Councillors have been told grant cuts from the Coalition Government mean initial forecasts of a total reduction of 28 per cent will now be more likely to equate to 36 per cent.
To meet the targets, the council has said it will stick to the plan supported by the public, which has said it should protect frontline services wherever possible while continuing to reduce management and support service budgets to balance the books.
Council leader Simon Henig said: “I am grateful to the public for their feedback during our recent consultation which shows a high level of understanding of how we have managed spending reductions so far.
“However, there is no doubt there are many more extremely difficult decisions which we will have to make.
“We will make these while continuing our discussions with residents and businesses in the county and while protecting those who are most vulnerable as best we can. This includes our proposal to freeze council tax for the fourth year running, our decision to protect council tax benefit payments for a year and our increased budgets for areas of adult social care as well as capital projects to boost the economy and job creation.”