§ The Minister for Local Government, Regional Governance and Fire (Mr. Nick Raynsford)
Despite above inflation increases in grant for all English local authorities in 2003–04, we were disappointed that the38WS average council tax increase was 12.9 per cent. Having looked at the budget returns from all English authorities, we have considered very carefully whether to use our powers under part IVA of the Local Government Act 1992 to cap any local authority budgets. We have decided against doing so this year.
Every local authority has a responsibility to its own taxpayers and electors. However, the Government are clear that the current trend in council tax rises is not sustainable. We will look at council tax rises very closely next year and we will also want to take account of the trend in increases over more than one year. Local authorities should be aware that we are prepared to use our targeted capping powers in 2004–05. In exceptional circumstances I do not rule out the possibility of capping authorities categorised as "good" or "excellent" in the current and future comprehensive performance assessments.