Councils warned about stealth charges

Local authorities around the country are looking for ways to make up for Whitehall budget cuts, and in many cases this means hiking charges for some services by up to 200 per cent.

Instead of slashing executive pay and administration bills, many councils are raising the prices of such essentials as nurseries, car parking fees, school bus passes, home helps and sports hire.

A source at the Department for Communities and Local Government last night said: 'People will not tolerate this - they pay enough already in council tax, which doubled under Labour.

'Any council that says it has no option is talking nonsense. There is plenty of scope for cost saving.'

Local government minister Grant Shapps accused councils of making residents 'cash cows'.

He said: 'Only lazy councils will attempt to use residents to boost their bank balances and, I am sure, given the new levels of transparency in local government, the public won't stand for it.'

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