RESIDENTS have been spared a council tax hike – despite councillors being offered the chance to impose an inflation-busting rise.

Hambleton District Council was the only council in the region to be given permission to impose a rise of up to six per cent by the Government because it has the third lowest council tax demand in the country.

The council had the option of raising council tax without holding a referendum – which is usually required with a potential rise of two per cent or more.

However, members of Hambleton Cabinet voted today (Tuesday, February 12) to continue to take a Government grant for the council tax freeze and keep the rate pegged for the third year running.

Members of full council will be asked to ratify the decision next week.

Without the freeze the district council’s element of council tax would be £91.72 a year for a Band D property - but residents will be charged £89.48.

The council will accept a Council Tax Freeze Grant of £32,525 and a one-year transition grant of £340,269 to offset the loss of income after the reduction in the council tax base for 2013 to 2014.

When charges for North Yorkshire County Council, parishes, the police and fire authorities are added to the bill the council tax for an average Band D property is expected to be £1,448.08.

Councillor Ron Kirk said: “If we took the increase we would still have had the third lowest council tax rate in the country.

“But the potential rise in funds would not have been a significant sum of money so we have recommended councillors accept the freeze.

"Accepting the Government grants will make things difficult next year - the council could lose almost £600,000 of Government support due to the one-off nature of this year's funding. 

"We will have to be careful with budgeting and planning - but we do not yet know what Government financial settlement we will get next year."

Councillors have also agreed to pass a £92,000 grant to parishes most affected by changes to the Welfare Reform Bill which will see people on benefits having to pay council tax for the first time. The one-year grant will reduce the amount charged to householders.