Liberal Democrats on Cornwall Council are calling on the authority accept the offer from central government to pay the rise in council tax next year so Cornish taxpayers don't have to. The group is calling on the Conservative led administration to back their amendment which would freeze council tax for Cornish taxpayers and guarantee to protect front-line services from further cuts.
The coalition government has offered a grant equivalent to the normal 2.5% council tax rise to any council which does not raise tax levels.
Cornwall can freeze council tax for residents without cutting any services thanks to this grant. It seems like a no brainer - yet the Conservatives are refusing to say what they will do.
Yesterday the cabinet debated the budget and again fudged the decision of whether to freeze or raise council tax. At a time when many families are struggling to make ends meet, we should be doing everything we can to help them out.
If the Liberal Democrat amendment is passed when the full council debates the budget on November 29th, a Band D household will save £31.11 next year. It's not a huge amount, but it's enough to pay for a child's school shoes or the petrol to get to and from work for a week.
As well as freezing council tax, the Liberal Democrats will be pushing other budget amendments to save frontline services which the Conservatives want to cut and to restore some of those which they cut this year. Liberal Democrats believe in high quality local services at a price you can afford - not whizz-bang schemes which never work out.
My colleague Cllr Jeremy Rowe added these thoughts:
"The Tories have made much of their so-called boldness in 'going early' on the budget, yet they don't seem bold enough to give anyone the most basic part of that process - the level of Council Tax residents will be expected to pay. Whether that's due to their timidity or the fractures within their County Hall coalition, how can they proceed with their budget without this most fundamental piece of information?"
"Of course it would be better if the Government grant was to be made permanent - and I am happy to help the council leadership out by writing to the Government. But even if this is a one year offer, it will avoid the authority having to make cuts and keep pounds in the pockets of Cornish families."
The pictures here show the amounts that would be saved by(from top) Band B, Band D, Band H and Band H taxpayers. Please note that, to protect personal financial details, we've used models for these photos.