Sir, – In the Spending Review last Wednesday I secured a fair deal for councils which will mean they can protect the interests of hard working families and the most vulnerable in society.

Given the legacy of debt we have to tackle, tough choices have been inevitable. But the deal we’ve struck has been to protect frontline services by cutting out bureaucracy and central Government. We’re giving councils unprecedented freedoms and control over their money; so that they can decide for themselves how best to meet local needs.

To help them do that, we’ve set aside £650m to fully fund a council tax freeze for householders next year. If your council decides not to put up your rates, we’ll provide them with an increase in funding so services don’t have to suffer and you aren’t hit in your pocket.

We’ve cut the red tape which comes attached to public money: putting councils in charge of more than £7bn to meet the needs of local communities.

Billions more will go to councils to support social care and vulnerable elderly people. We’re giving councils new powers to borrow money to invest in infrastructure and providing incentives for those who build more homes. And we’re scrapping the culture of targets which wastes millions of pounds each year and stops councils from concentrating on what people actually want.

It’s only right, then, that people will be counting on councils to use all this to protect frontline services. In order to do that, there’ll have to be big changes in the way that councils work: asking themselves fundamental questions about what they do – or whether others like the voluntary and community sector, are better placed to deliver.

This is a big ask of councils, but I have every confidence that they will be able to rise to this challenge.

ERIC PICKLES Communities and Local Government Secretary, Whitehall, London