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Suffolk’s council tax rise largest for 15 years

PUBLISHED: 18:13 23 January 2018 | UPDATED: 18:13 23 January 2018

Suffolk's budget was agreed by the cabinet. It will be debated by the full council, pictured, next month. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Suffolk's budget was agreed by the cabinet. It will be debated by the full council, pictured, next month. Picture: PAUL GEATER

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Suffolk County Council’s element of tax bills this year will see the biggest percentage rise since the notorious 18.5pc hike in 2003.

Suffolk County Council cabinet member Richard Smith Suffolk County Council cabinet member Richard Smith

The total increase in the county’s element of council tax bills – 70pc of the bill – will be 4.99pc. That is 2.99pc on the basic council tax and a 2pc social care precept.

It will mean people living in a Band B home – the most numerous single band in Suffolk – will have to pay an extra £45.93 for county council services over the next year.

The outcry over the 18.5pc increase was so loud that the then Labour government changed the funding formula to ensure council tax rises were lower.

However, the current government is withdrawing Whitehall financial support for councils and is expecting them to fund more services locally.

The council tax rise in 2003 sparked protests across the country, including in Ipswich. Picture: ARCHANT The council tax rise in 2003 sparked protests across the country, including in Ipswich. Picture: ARCHANT

Yesterday’s meeting of Suffolk County Council’s cabinet backed the rise – which is similar to other county councils across the country. Essex is putting up its bills by the same formula and in Norfolk the county’s element will go up by 6pc.

But the rise in council tax does not prevent the need for cuts – savings of £23.9m have been proposed in the county’s budget including £11m from the Adult Care Services budget.

Cabinet member for finance Richard Smith said: “I do not like having to put up council tax bills. I was elected in 2010 and this is the first time I will be voting for a rise in basic council tax rates (the social care precept was introduced two years ago).”
He said the fact this was the largest rise since 2003 showed how tightly the increases had been kept down over the last 15 years.

Labour said the cuts to Adult Care this year meant the service had lost £71m since 2011/12.

Group leader Sarah Adams said the changes made it more difficult for people to stay in their own homes: “It is a disgrace this administration claims to be preserving preventative measures when they are actively removing support that means people have to move to more expensive care homes.”

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