Barnet Council leader Victor Lyon has promised a modest rise in council tax next year, following this year's ‘one-off' 24 per cent increase.

Mr Lyon said that he would prefer drastic cuts in services rather than increasing bills if the grant the council receives from the Government falls next year.

Last year, the Government's grant to the council rose by 3.5 per cent, the lowest rise in the country.

"I don't think a large increase in the council tax would be acceptable to anybody," said Mr Lyon. "We want a modest rise,” said Mr Lyon. “If, on the other hand, the Government floor goes down to two-and-a-half per cent, then we have got to make drastic cuts."

Labour group leader Councillor Phil Yeoman said: "The 24 per cent increase last year was a disgrace, hitting the poorest residents in the pocket, and it seems they will be rewarded this year with cuts to services. It's an easy excuse to blame central Government."

It also emerged this week that Barnet's residents will not be consulted on exactly how much the council tax should be next year.

Instead, a questionnaire will be posted to every household in the borough asking for their general views on 'budget position' in October or November. Labour councillor Danish Chopra said this was too early for voters to know how much money the council would have, but Mr Lyon said waiting until January would mean it would be too late to alter spending plans.