Council Tax Freeze for Reading Residents
Reading residents will feel the benefit of the Council’s decision to freeze council tax charges when bills begin landing on their doormats this week. More than 66,000 properties across the town will receive their Council Tax bills from tomorrow onwards. Unlike in previous years, however, they will not have to find any extra money to pay them.
Despite the challenging economic climate, Reading Borough Council has been able to hold charges at 2010/11 levels, whilst continuing to deliver high-quality services and value for money.
The Council Tax freeze for 2011/12 has been made possible after around £19 million of savings were identified by Reading Borough Council in next year’s budget. These include efficiency measures of £7.3m. The process of identifying further efficiency savings will continue over coming years.
Council Tax levels for 2011/12 – which include precepts from Thames Valley Police and the Royal Berkshire Fire & Rescue Service – are as follows:
BAND A: £999.18
BAND B: £1,165.70
BAND C: £1,332.24
BAND D: £1,498.76
BAND E: £1,831.82
BAND F: £2,164.88
BAND G: £2,497.94
BAND H: £2,997.52
More than 40% of properties in Reading fall in Band C, which means more than 2 in five households will have a Council Tax bill based on a charge of £1,332.24 for 2011/12. Households who receive Council Tax benefit and/or a single person discount will pay less than the basic charge per band shown above.
Reading Borough Council Leader Andrew Cumpsty said: ‘For the first time in the Council’s history, we are freezing Council Tax. This means that bills for residents will not rise in the year ahead, helping people right across Reading in managing their household budgets. Times are tough financially, and this first ever freeze delivered by this administration will mean our residents have more of their own money. This is an action by a Council which understands that in tough times, everyone, including the Council, needs to tighten it’s own belt and live within its means.’
Kirsten Bayes, Deputy Leader at Reading Borough Council added: “We understand the financial difficulties our residents face, and are doing our very best to preserve services while keeping costs down. This Council Tax freeze takes away a source of worry in household budgets in cash-strapped times.”
As always, Reading residents who have not already done so are being urged to set up a direct debit to pay their Council Tax bill for 2011/12. This process of payment saves the Council and the council tax payer money by cutting down on significant administration costs. For example it costs around 20 pence per year to pay your Council Tax by direct debit, as opposed to around £20 for all other payment methods, including cash and cheques.
More details about how to set up a Direct Debit to pay your Council Tax bill can be found at http://www.reading.gov.uk/adviceandbenefits/counciltax/payyourbill or residents can telephone 0118 9373727 to request a DD form.
For 2009/10, 97% of Council tax bills were paid and a similar level of payment is expected for 2010/11. Reading Borough Council would like to thank all residents who paid on time.
The Council would urge anyone who has difficulty paying their Council Tax to contact the Council as quickly as possible so suitable arrangements can be made. Residents who refuse to pay and do not contact the Council Tax team need to know the Council will vigourously pursue non-payment of council tax through the courts.
This year the Council has already taken 7,125 people to court for non payment. Where people are taken to court they will have to pay additional costs of up to £90 over and above their Council Tax bill. Where people still refuse to pay, the Council has a variety of other ways of seeking to recover the Council Tax, including seeking bankruptcy or committal to prison. Reading Borough Council has already taken two dozen people to court for committal proceedings which have resulted in payment orders and suspended sentences to date.