Council tax to be frozen again

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COUNCIL TAX FROZEN
PA

Chancellor George Osborne is due to announce measures to freeze council tax, invest in mobile phone masts and support British science in a bid to help families and businesses struggling in the difficult economic climate.


In his keynote speech to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Mr Osborne will call on Britons to show a "can-do attitude" and promise them that the country will overcome its current problems.


The Chancellor is to announce funding to help local authorities in England hold council tax at its current level for a second year - saving the average family £72.


The step will be paid for using around £800 million of unspent cash from Whitehall departments, which Mr Osborne said had been saved by "eliminating waste and inefficiency" over the past year.


Cash will also be made available to devolved executives in Scotland and Wales to enable them to make similar offers to help keep council tax down.


Speaking to BBC1's Breakfast, Mr Osborne said that around £150 million will be spent on mobile phone networks, to enable companies to connect six million people living in remote areas which currently have little or no signal.


Mr Osborne played down the prospect of further business tax cuts in the near future to stimulate the economy. And he said the decision on whether to print more money in a fresh round of "quantitative easing" was a matter for the Bank of England.


But he sought to strike a positive note, telling the BBC: "We know our problems but the message in my speech today is that we can overcome these problems. We should have that can-do attitude."


Mr Osborne told the BBC: "This Government is absolutely committed to helping people through these difficult global times, absolutely committed to help people with the cost of living, help families not only get into jobs and stay in work but also help them pay those family bills."


He insisted that he and David Cameron "see eye to eye" on economic policy, brushing off reports that the Prime Minister had been pressing him to reduce the impact of the planned removal of child benefit from higher-rate taxpayers next year.

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