COUNCIL tax in Swindon is set to remain at its current level for the fourth consecutive year following an alteration in government funding.

It was revealed in December that council leaders were considering raising the tax by 1.9 per cent but a proposal set to go before the cabinet, which will then need full council approval, will see the current level remain in place.

As a result, Swindon will be eligible for a grant equal to a one per cent rise from the government, which equates to £850,000 a year. This would always have been the case but a change from the Chancellor means the rise is included in the main budget giving it more long term security.

Therefore a decision has been made to abandon plans to raise the council tax by an average of £22 per household.

Council leader David Renard (Con, Haydon Wick) said: “We were looking at a rise of 1.9 per cent but there were a few changes since the draft budget was put together in December which means we will be recommending to cabinet that we do not increase the tax.

“The one per cent grant is now included in the base budget which means it is not likely to be taken away all of a sudden so there is less chance of us suddenly falling of a cliff.

“The grant has been in place for the last three years but there has always been the risk that it could have been taken away.

“This, combined with some prudent financial management has meant we are in a position to keep council tax at the same level.”

The difference between keeping council tax at its current level and raising it by 1.9 per cent, amounts to just over £1.2 million over two years.

Coun Renard said that despite the tight situation the council were in a position to offer the freeze and denied playing with the town’s finances for political gain.

He said: “The financial situation for everyone is very tough at the moment and we are fully aware of that.

“Of course if we put council tax up then there would be plenty of things we could use the money for and it would certainly come in very handy.

“We live in a democratic society and we have to listen to the needs of the people so we understand that keeping council tax down again will make a difference.”

The budget report is due to go before the cabinet on Wednesday next week and while the basic council charge will stay the same if approved, some residents could see a rise if parish precepts go up.