Wales Election 2016

Welsh election: Tories pledge council tax freeze

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Media captionAndrew RT Davies says council tax has risen too sharply in Wales

Local authorities would be given funding to freeze council tax for five years under a Welsh Conservative government, the party has said.

The Tories said they would pay for the pledge by making cuts elsewhere in the Welsh government's budget.

UK ministers have given cash to freeze council tax in England in recent years.

But rival parties said council tax bills were already lower in Wales than in England and claimed freezing bills would store up problems for the future.

The average band D home in Wales will have a council tax bill of £1,374 this year - £156 less than in England.

But the tax is rising quicker in Wales - by 3.5% this year, compared to 3.1% in England.

'Boost economies'

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said if his party wins May's assembly election it will offer councils grants to freeze tax, as has happened in England.

"The freeze would last an entire assembly term, allowing people to keep more of the money they earn, helping to deliver financial security for hardworking families and offering a much-needed boost to local economies," he said.

The policy would cost £16m to £17m a year and a Welsh Conservative spokesman added it would form part of a fully-costed manifesto.

The Tories' biggest cut would be in funding for student support.

They would offer students help with rent, instead of subsidising tuition fees - a move that would free up more than £175m a year to be spent elsewhere, the party said.

A Labour spokesman responded: "It's clear that the Welsh Tory policy book is bare and that Andrew RT Davies, on council tax as on health, is importing failed policy from across the border."

Plaid Cymru, the only party to have published its manifesto so far, said it would provide a council tax cut for three-quarters of homes. Eventually the party would scrap the tax and replace it with a local income tax.

A Welsh Liberal Democrat spokesman said: "Despite what the Tories say, this announcement will lead to devastating cuts to local government services.

UKIP's policy is to "support reductions in council tax wherever possible".

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