THE prospect of a two per cent council tax rise in a North-East city is a step closer.

Members of the executive at Newcastle City Council have approved the 2005-06 budget report following consultation.

The recommendations will now go to a meeting of the full council on Wednesday, March 2, when they are expected to be ratified, giving Newcastle residents the lowest council tax rise for ten years.

The budget will include an extra £200,000 to be spent on social services, particularly for elderly people; an extra £100,000 on environmental improvements and an additional £225,000 in Government grant on recycling initiatives. These changes will mean that the council will increase spending on local services by £19.2m in 2005-6.

It will include an extra £8m for social services; £6.7m more for schools and education, and £2.5m on the local environment.