COUNCIL tax payers in Sunderland could see the charge frozen for the fifth year in a row.
The proposal was unveiled today at a meeting of the City Council’s Cabinet, which also discussed the budget for the next 12 months.
A final decision on both the budget and the council tax will now be put to a full council meeting on Wednesday, March 4.
Subject to that meeting’s approval, it would be the fifth year running the city council has frozen council tax.
The charge helps pay for hundreds of services, from helping the elderly and vulnerable, to refuse and recycling services, and leisure facilities.
Coun Mel Speding, the council’s Cabinet Secretary, said: “Many people have suffered enough with Government cuts in welfare and council tax benefits, rising energy bills, stagnating wages and increases in the cost of living.
“The City Council could not propose raising the council tax and burden people with another increase in their living costs.
“We are continuing to do all we can to cushion people against the Government’s austerity programme.
“However, Sunderland and similarly deprived areas are being hit the hardest due to the disproportionate funding reductions from government.
“Sunderland has already cut more than £170m from its budgets in the last five years.
“Auditors recognise that the council has continued to provide value for money, and we have done our best to protect frontline services from the impact of the cuts so far.
“Yet another £36m must be cut in the next 12 months.
“We have no option now but to look to cut frontline services because of the financial constraints we are operating under.
“A freeze in the council tax is at least a piece of positive news for people across our city.”
The majority of households in Sunderland are in tax bands A and B.
Of its 123,000 properties, more than 77,000 are in these two bands.
These householders would continue to pay £790.64 per year (without the police and fire service precepts”.
2014/15 COUNCIL TAX (proposed to remain unchanged for 2015/16)
BAND A - £790.64
BAND B - £922.41
BAND C - £1,054.19
BAND D - £1,185.96
BAND E - £1,449.51
BAND F - £1,713.05
BAND G - £1,976.60
BAND H - £2,371.92