Sir Merrick Cockell, Chairman of the Local Government Association, said:
"Times are tough, and that is why councils up and down the country are keen to help hard-working families and pensioners by keeping council tax down. The vast majority of councils have introduced a council tax freeze for the last two years and this announcement will help many councils to carry on freezing council tax for the forthcoming year.
"Reducing the current referendum trigger from 3.5 per cent to 2 per cent represents less flexibility for councils and even less localism with Whitehall decreeing what constitutes excessive. If local referendums are to be truly localist, they should be triggered by local people who can determine whether a council tax increase is excessive or not.
"Any help for councils is a good thing, but we have to be clear that this is a short-term offer. It doesn't address the huge long-term pressures councils are facing, including bigger cuts than any other part of the public sector and an immediate and growing crisis in funding care for the elderly. Councils could now have to budget for a further future shortfall.
"It is only right that councils take a longer-term view on budget planning and that decisions on the level of council tax are made by councillors who will then rightly be held to account through the ballot box.
"Councils care for the elderly, look after vulnerable children and collect the bins from our streets and in order to carry on doing this effectively local authorities need local discretion to consider the long-term interests of their residents before deciding if they will take up this Government offer."
Author: LGA Media Office
Contact: Cherie Willers, Local Government Association Media Office, Telephone: 020 7664 3333
10 October 2012