COUNCIL tax in Sandwell is being frozen for the fourth year running – despite a £22 million cut in Government cash for the borough.

Councillor Steve Eling, the council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for strategic resources, said: “More and more councils are putting up council tax – and the strain on our budget increases every year.

“The Government has cut £22 million from our budget for the year ahead, on top of the £70 million it has already cut. It’s impossible to make these savings without some pain or impact on services.

“But we recognise residents are having a tough time and that living and energy costs keep rising. It’s more and more difficult for people to make ends meet.

He added: “We’re also having to put up rents for council tenants. While the rent rise is below Government guidelines, it is still more than we’d have wanted.

“We believe our proposals to freeze council tax this year are fair for residents given the current economic climate and we are doing everything we can to protect frontline services.”

Councillor Eling said if the council increased council tax it would lose a ‘freeze grant’ from the Government – and that the gain from any increase would be largely unnoticeable when dealing with such large-scale cuts.

The proposals for the 2014/15 budget and council tax will go to cabinet on 19 February and full council on 4 March.

The council is waiting for confirmation of the council tax levels for police and fire.