THE Government has blocked Somerset Council's plans to ease its financial crisis by hiking council tax by a massive 10 per cent.

The council had hoped to win permission for the increase - double the maximum 4.99 per cent allowed - to raise an extra £17million to reduce its £100million black hole.

It would have put an extra £160 on Band D home council tax bills next year.

But in turning down the council's plea, the Government says it wants to "protect local taxpayers from excessive council tax increases" and councils should consider the pressures "many households" are facing.

A raft of other measures including job cuts, raiding the authority's reserves and selling off properties are being considered in a bid to stave off bankruptcy, while town and parish councils ar being asked to take on same tasks previously the responsibility of the countywide authority.

After the Government said no to the proposed 10 per cent tax rise, Cllr Bill Revans, Leader of Somerset Council, said: “This is a disappointing decision which will impact on the long-term viability of our council.

"While no one wanted to raise council tax, it was the only option we had to address a broken system where our costs are rising faster than our income.

"We have been prepared to take difficult decisions locally to minimise the impact on our communities. However, we are now reliant on the Government granting a capitalisation direction.

"This would be another short-term measure and is not the long-term solution which is urgently needed.”