HALTON’S council tax is set to rise by 1.9 per cent for the second year running as the local authority faces Government cuts of £15 million.

The draft budget of £108.23m is expected to be approved by the full council on Wednesday, March 5.

The increase could cost householders in band A properties £14.69 a year or 28p a week extra and band B rates would go up £17.13 a year or 33p a week.

Halton’s grants have been cut by 52 per cent, that is £53m, since the coalition came to power in 2010.

Council leader Clr Rob Polhill said: “We are getting kicked all the time by the Government. We didn’t take the decision to put up council tax lightly but we have got to invest in our frontline services.

“We have always been a very efficient council. We are constantly looking for savings and challenging ourselves to do things differently.”

He praised staff for their dedication and vowed to keep job losses to a minimum.

Clr Polhill added: “We are still hoping there will be no compulsory redundancies. We have had to let experienced staff go through voluntary redundancy and early retirement.

“It is difficult for the ones who are left. There is a lot of pressure but, with training, they are all putting their shoulders to the wheel.

“Our staff are committed to the communities we serve.They are always prepared to go the extra mile.”

Clr Mike Wharton, board member for resources, said: “It is heartbreaking for us to make these cuts. We came into politics to improve the lot of people and their lives.

“Our biggest priority is to protect the most vulnerable people and frontline services.

“It is extremely worrying as we face further cuts of £20m next year and £14m the year after. It is inevitable at some stage it will hit frontline services.”