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Suffolk households face above-inflation council tax rises next April

PUBLISHED: 08:54 14 December 2018

Local Government Secretary James Brokenshire announced the settlement for councils. Picture: David Mirzoeff/PA Wire

Local Government Secretary James Brokenshire announced the settlement for councils. Picture: David Mirzoeff/PA Wire

Households in Suffolk could see council tax bills rise by 4.7% next year if the county's local authorities and police do as the government suggests in its local government settlement.

Tim Passmore, police and crime commissioner for Suffolk  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNTim Passmore, police and crime commissioner for Suffolk Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Local Government secretary James Brokenshire announced the settlement for authorities to the House of Commons on Thursday.

Councils will be able to put bills up by fractionally under 3% – but Suffolk County Council will be able to spend a further 1% “social care precept” to increase spending in that area.

But it is the police service that could see the biggest increase – the government is giving Police and Crime Commissioner the right to increase council tax bills for Band D properties by £24 a year. In Suffolk that would amount to a 12.7% increase.

When added together that will push up council tax bills by about 4.7% across the county – going up by £60-£65 a year for a Band B property which is the most numerous size of home in Suffolk.

Richard Smith, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for finance and assets said the council had a strong history with the west Suffolk councils  Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL/SIMON LEE PHOTOGRAPHYRichard Smith, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for finance and assets said the council had a strong history with the west Suffolk councils Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL/SIMON LEE PHOTOGRAPHY

Officials at councils and at the police authority were spending much of Thursday trying to work out exactly what the announcement would mean for them as they prepare their 2019/20 budgets.

Mr Brokenshire said that overall councils would have 2.8% more to spend on services next year.

He told the House of Commons: “I am in no doubt about how challenging it has been for councils to drive efficiencies as they contributed to helping rebuild our economy and tackling the deficit.”

Suffolk PCC Tim Passmore said: “Now that we know what our settlement is for the next financial year, I will work with the Chief Constable and our Chief Financial officer to go through the detail.

“The government’s announcement that we can raise the policing element of the precept by up to £24 per annum for a Band D property is more than we had initially forecast. We will now consider what this will mean for our budget and the impact it will have on Suffolk’s council taxpayers and provide a more detailed and considered response in the new year.”

Suffolk Cabinet Member for Finance Richard Smith said: “To a large extent we anticipated what has been announced today but it is pleasing to see that Ministers are recognising the tough financial calls we are being forced to make in local government.

“To manage the continued increasing demand for our services and the complexity of needs of our most vulnerable residents, we are planning to spend more money in children’s services and adult services in 2019/2020.

“Our finance team now needs to work through the rest of the information provided today to collate the Council’s final budget proposal ahead of its Cabinet meeting in January 2019, taking into account figures received from the districts/borough on Council Tax base.”

Sarah Adams, Leader of the Labour Group said: “The Local Government Financial Settlement had already been delayed for a week while the Tories indulged themselves in a vote of no confidence in their own leader.

“This has stopped local councils from planning their budgets which continue to be hit by Tory austerity.

“Unsurprisingly the wait has not been worth it with the government still refusing to fill huge funding gaps, once again pushing an unsustainable burden onto local councils and their residents.

“Local councils deliver many of our front line public services such as education, children’s services, adult care, roads and transport but this settlement does nothing to ensure the long term viability of any of these services.

“This funding settlement paves the way for an above inflation rise in council tax and proves that, with the Conservatives, Suffolk taxpayers will continue to pay more, but get less.”

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