COUNCIL tax rates are set to rise in Bucks later this year - but the increase won't be as big as first thought.

Buckinghamshire County Council's share of the council tax was previously set to increase by 1.9 per cent - the maximum allowed without a referendum amongst residents - at the beginning of the next financial year.

Yesterday the authority's cabinet approved an increase of 1.5 per cent instead, with that decision set to be confirmed by the full council later this month.

Leader Martin Tett said this was down to an unexpected cash windfall from central government, as well as cuts to the council's budget.

A total of £750,000 has been cut from the budget for 'Supporting People' in Health and Wellbeing, while Children's Services has also had to cut back the funding available to send disabled children on short breaks.

However the council has been able to restore funding to help activities supporting child poverty and for the voluntary and community sector.

Cllr Tett said this was due to a larger than expected amount raked in from council tax and the government agreeing to pay the council more than £2million under the New Homes Bonus.

The bonus is based on the amount of extra council tax revenue raised for new-build homes, conversions and long-term empty homes brought back into use.

Despite that government windfall, and a cut in the planned increase in council tax, Cllr Tett said: "This has been the most difficult by far of any budget I have been involved in.

"The easy cuts, if you like, have been made long ago. Now we are facing some quite significant reduction in expenditure, which is going to impact on local people.

"There are major risks. This isn't an unadulterated good news budget. There are costs which will seriously affect many people in the county."

He added the amount of funding the council receives from the government has decreased year on year and said: "We have to make sure the amount of money in our council tax base grows."