THREE councils have announced a freeze on its tax precept for the coming year.

Members of Stevenage Borough Council approved a council tax freeze last night (Wednesday) for the fourth year running.

It means residents in a Band D property will pay an average precept of £188.52 to Stevenage Borough Council a year.

The budget was set at £10.1m for 2013/14 – £600,000 less than last year.

Savings of £755,000 have been proposed following a £1.66m reduction in Government funding.

Bringing Stevenage Homes back under council control is expected to save £151,000 due to the removal of duplicate posts and reduced running costs, while £200,000 will be used from a New Homes Bonus scheme.

“We know people are having a real tough time out there so our priority is to keep people’s costs as low as possible this year by freezing council tax,” said leader of the borough council Sharon Taylor.

“It’s not without risks as if the Government grant for freezing council tax is taken away there would be a hole in the budget.

“Our number one priority remains to keep Stevenage as a thriving, ambitious town. This co-operative council will build on the spirit of co-operation which has built this town. We will stand side by side with Stevenage people no matter how rough the economic storm.”

Stevenage Liberal Democrats leader Robin Parker called for two amendments, one to increase the Centre for Voluntary Services grant by £10,000 and another to cut councillor allowances.

Both were defeated by Labour councillors.

Councillors at Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) also agreed there would be no rise for the third year running at the budget meeting held last Thursday.

It means the average annual council element of the Band D council tax will be £1,308.33 from April, with all residents now paying the same wherever they live in the area to the unitary authority.

CBC also approved a £189m budget, where it had to make savings of £16m.

Most of those will come through efficiency measures, merging teams within the council and commissioning services across departments, rather than individually.

The council has said there will be no redundancies, but posts will be scrapped when they become vacant or people retire.

Cllr Maurice Jones, deputy leader and executive member for corporate resources, said: “Throughout the whole budget process, we have been very clear that we do not want to put extra pressure on families’ budgets by raising council tax and our focus has been on ensuring that residents receive great services that represent maximum value for money for the council tax they pay.”

Hertfordshire County Council has also frozen its council tax precept for the fourth year in a row, meaning Band D properties will continue to pay £1,118.83 a year for the county council’s portion of the bill.