COUNCIL tax has been frozen in Worcester for the third year in a row.

Worcester City Council has set a budget of £10.399m for 2013/14, but has managed to keep council tax fixed thanks to the identification of £686,000 in savings and a Government grant of £50,000.

The news means a Band D household in Worcester will pay £1,453.52 on average in the 2013/14 financial year.

The budget includes provision for a range of measures during the year, including:

• a local mortgage scheme to help first time buyers pay a deposit on their home

• improvements to the riverside paths north of Sabrina Bridge

• improvements to Fort Royal Park, including the building of a new play area

• investment in improvements to the top of High Street, from the Elgar Statue to Pump Street

• up to £45,000 in grants for local small and medium sized businesses.

The budget has been designed to ensure council services are paid for without the use of over £1 million from a new Government scheme called the New Homes Bonus – which awards the council cash when new homes are built in the city.

Instead, the New Homes Bonus money will be used to pay for improvements to Worcester, with the money being invested in measures to support the local economy, infrastructure and regeneration projects, and affordable housing.

Councillor Simon Geraghty, Leader of the Council, said: “In these tough times I’m proud to have delivered a budget which once again freezes Council Tax bills – something I know our residents will appreciate.

“At the same time I’m pleased that we’ve been able to continue to make improvements to Worcester, ensuring our city is a fantastic place to live, visit and do business in."