Residents were today reeling after councillors approved a ten per cent council tax hike.

Worthing Council last night decided next year's council tax should rise by more than four times the rate of inflation.

The increase of 10.3 per cent, means an average band D taxpayer must pay £937.26 next year, compared to £849.51 this year.

Most of it will go to West Sussex County Council, which is responsible for schools, highways and social services.

For instance, of the £937.26 band D householders must find, £724.95 is earmarked for the county council, £142.47 to Worthing Borough Council, and £69.84 to Sussex Police Authority.

Councillor Brian Lynn, leader of the borough council, said: "Most of this is due to the underfunding we had had from national government. We are in the same position as all the other shire districts.

"We have to impose this sort of increase because we have to balance the books.

"The Government has underfunded us by nearly £200,000, which alone represents four per cent of the increase. We have also had to pay money into pension resources because ex-employees are living longer and that has got to be funded. We had no option."

Council staff attending a training course or conference have been told that they are not eligible to claim breakfast or evening meal allowances.

The full council tax demands are: Band A, £624.84; B £728.98, C £833.12, D £937.36, E £1,145.54, F £1,353.82, G £1,562.10, H £1,874.52.

Valerie Halley, 63, of who lives in Chestnut Walk, Worthing, and is a member of the Highdown Copse Residents Association, said: "I think the rise is disgusting.

"We pay enough as it is. What about senior citizens? A ten per cent rise will be too much for them."