FACED with a widening budget gap, Test Valley Borough Council could decide to break the council tax freeze next month.

As one of 50 “low-taxing councils” nationwide, the authority has dispensation to raise its share of the council tax by as much as £5 for a band ‘D’ property without the need to resort to a local referendum.

Even if they do this, councillors will still need to find £161,000 of savings to balance the budget in 2013-14.

Finance portfolio holder, Peter Giddings, warned members of TVBC’s cabinet, meeting on Wednesday evening, that there was more pain to come – and for longer than had been expected.

“We will need to make further savings of £1.545 million in 2014-15 and £805,000 in 2015-16,” he said.“The cuts haven’t stopped and the reduction in government spending is significant.

“It is going on for the next two years at least at the same percentage rate.”

The final decision about the level of council tax will be taken by the full council on February 22, when demands from police, county council, the fire service and minor authorities are added to the sum needed to run Test Valley’s services.