Councils have been urged to use the £30bn available in cash reserves and uncollected debts to protect frontline services, by local government secretary Eric Pickles.
New figures show that councils have £21.4bn in cash reserves, an increase by 50% in the past four years. The figures also show councils failed to collect £2.5bn in council tax, lost £2.4bn to fraud and had £2.4bn in ‘surplus’ assets in the same time period.
Mr Pickles said the figures show it is possible for councils to freeze council tax bills, while protecting public services.
‘Councils account for a quarter of public spending and every bit of the public sector must do its bit to pay off the deficit,’ he said. ‘But there are more than enough sensible savings to be made before hardworking families should have to foot any more of the bill.
‘Reserves have rocketed up in the past few years and councils could be making better use of assets to keep taxes down and protect frontline services, while at the same time doing more to stop the billions they are losing to fraud and collecting more council tax arrears.’