Council taxes will rise in the next financial year by 1.8%, the lowest figure since the levy was introduced nearly two decades ago. John Denham, communities secretary, claimed that the slightly below-inflation rise had been made possible by a 4% increase in central funding for councils from next month. But he acknowledged that there would be growing pressures on town hall budgets in the coming months against the wider backdrop of the UK’s large deficit. ‘Local people will rightly be intolerant of any council if they are told that care, libraries or youth services will be cut because they have not followed our radical reforms to protect the frontline services, which matter most to people,’ he said. The increase, the most modest since the tax was introduced in 1993-94, brings the bill for an average band D property to £1,439, from £1,414 this year.