Final decision made on Suffolk County Council 2021 council tax rate
- Credit: ARCHANT
Final agreement has been given for Suffolk County Council's 2021/22 budget, which will see a 4% rise in council tax.
The decision is 1% short of the maximum 5% the authority could have agreed to increase tax, with 4% equating to an extra £53.55 for a Band D property on this year's bill.
Additionally, district and borough councils as well as town and parish authorities and the police and crime commissioner precepts will be added to people's final bills.
Conservative cabinet member for finance, Gordon Jones, said the budget - £597.9m, which is £41m more than this year, "makes the most of every pound available to us through the government settlement, local tax collection and other streams of income".
He said the decision not to raise council tax by the maximum amount "recognises the increased financial pressures residents are feeling at present," with 4% considered sufficient.
He added: "It's an appropriate action to take this year as we continue to try and minimise the financial burden on residents at this difficult time while maintaining services at current levels."
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Government emergency cash packages for the county council to tackle the Covid crisis have totalled £82.2m in the last 11 months, while up to £22m in reserves will be used to help plug the gap in finances.
However, the opposition Labour group said it could not back the budget and abstained from the vote. Group leader Sarah Adams said the Conservative government had taken the "indefensible decision to increase local council tax at the worst possible time - they have taken the decision to make those who can least afford it shoulder the economic burden of the current crisis".
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She described it as "unfair, dishonest and disingenuous".
The Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent group put forward its own proposals in which it backed a full 5% council tax rise, and proposals for a £795,000 grants pot for charities and arts venues to weather the pandemic, additional cash for green measures and plans for a citizen's assembly.
However, those plans were rejected.
The group's leader Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw said: "The council's budget is a shocking read. It shows massive financial uncertainty this year and in future years and very little flexibility to make the positive changes to reduce inequality, create healthy communities and mitigate the climate emergency."
The final budget was approved by 44 votes to eight, with 10 councillors abstaining.