Council tax in Wolverhampton has been frozen for the fourth year running – but cuts of £17 million will start taking effect from next month.
Wolverhampton City Council has approved an austerity budget that will see it cut almost £60m over the next five years.
But Labour leader Councillor Roger Lawrence said the council would accept a government grant worth the equivalent of a one per cent rise in council tax to freeze the rates.
He said the council could have raised a further £300,000 by increasing rates by two per cent, the maximum allowed without giving residents a referendum, but that doing so would have thrown away the Government’s grant.
“It would have also taken over £1m out of the local economy,” he added. “That did not make sense to us so we chose not to.
“But it does not mean we will fall in line with government freezes in future.”
The decision means the authority’s share of council tax for the coming year remains at £877.81 for a Band A property, £1,024.12 for Band B, £1,170.42 for Band C and £1,316.72 for Band D.
Precepts for West Midlands Fire Service, West Midlands Police and transport authority Centro, which are collected with council tax, could go up.
Council tax was first frozen in 2010, 12 months before Chancellor George Osborne made grants available nationwide, by the former Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition that lost power to Labour in December of that year.
The council is still to complete consultation on some of the most controversial cuts of its budget, even though it has already assumed it will make the savings they promise.
Nine of the city’s 17 children’s centres are to close but the council has yet to identify where the axe will fall.
Respite care beds and day services will be moved out of Warstones Resource Centre, despite a 6,500-signature petition, but a consultation still has to take place on whether or not to turn the building into a “community hub” and provide a new home for Warstones Library.
The council is assuming savings of £1.15m over two years.
Other cuts include plans to reduce garden waste rounds during the winter and removing funding for children to learn Urdu, Punjabi and other mother tongue languages at weekends.