Ipswich: Council tax bills set for 1.9% increase as authority looks to ‘maintain front-line services’

David Ellesmere David Ellesmere

Tuesday, February 4, 2014
10:36 AM

Ipswich council’s share of council tax bills is set to increase by fractionally under 2% in April.

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The Labour-controlled borough is set to put up its element of council tax in a bid to maintain front-line services and build more council homes.

The increase will work out at about 9p (or £4.70 a year) a week for a Band B property – the most numerous in the town – which works out at an overall increase of just under 0.4%. The county council and Police and Crime Commissioner have already said they will not increase council tax bills.

There is a chance the rise could be lower. Secretary of State for Local Government Eric Pickles has not yet decided what the threshold should be for local authorities to have to have a referendum before they put up council tax bills.

Borough leader David Ellesmere said if the threshold was lower, the rise would have to be reduced: “We would not be able to justify the cost of holding a referendum across the borough.

“If Mr Pickles decides the threshold is 1.5% we will lower our rise, but that will mean some of our services will come under more of a threat in future years.”

Mr Ellesmere said that a 1.99% council tax increase would bring in about £220,000 extra to the borough – but it was facing a grant cut of £1.3 million this year and a further £1.3 million cut in 2015.

He said the council was proud of what it had achieved over recent years, and had done much to become more efficient.

The “living wage” had been introduced for council employees, and it was planned to extend this was being extended to council contractors (mainly cleaners).

It was also planning to increase the pay rates for apprentices.

Many council budgets have been frozen rather than increased in line with inflation, and reorganisation of the refuse collection service – due to be introduced in April – would save a further £180,000.

He said: “There have been some tough decisions, but we feel if the town is to develop we need to ask for a small increase.

“We want to improve support cor community and arts bodies – and to boost our events programme. These bring in millions of pounds to the town and help to make Ipswich a better place to live in.”

The council tax rise comes just after the borough controversially voted to put up its council rents by 5.5%, nearly three times the rate of inflation.

The rise did not impress the town’s Conservative MP Ben Gummer. He said: “To say I am disappointed by this is an understatement.

“The borough has two major elements of personal expenditure within its power: Council Tax, which affects everybody, and council house rents, which affect thousands across the town.

“This year, as last year, they are putting both up. They can talk all they want about the cost of living but on the two numbers they can affect, they have done all they can to make it harder for local people.

“Council Tax in Ipswich is already amongst the highest in the country: it should be going down, not up. Other councils, including Labour councils, have frozen council tax, as has the Conservative County Council and Police Commissioner.

“I implore them to look again and do what they can to lighten the load on people’s pockets.’

9 comments

  • It's a small enough increase, but we don't need to "improve support cor community and arts bodies – and to boost our events programme." We need to reverse the decline in the town by bringing empoyment to the town- business- offices, factories etc, sorting out the roads so that people can travel and park in out town. Airey fairy arts projects do nothing but give people a nice day out!

    Report this comment

    Sentinel Red

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

  • How about you stop wasting our money then you will have plenty in reserve. Let start with not wasting 600k+ on the prefabs. Sell them for development for circa £4million as offered this is not only build many more homes but save us a fortune. Another option would be to reduce the tiers of management within IBC.. this would save fortunes too. The current Labour council has zero long term vision, it is wasteful and doesn't acknowledgelisten to its electorate. Building dozens of council houses is not what the town needs. Selling off council houses at a time when more are required is too not a very good strategy. If someone can afford to buy a property they should look to the private sector like most people. We can only dream that one day somebody with common sense and decency will lead the council, instead of these puppets on strings.

    Report this comment

    Rory Breaker

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

  • So if it's 0.4% for a band B property and 1.9% overall aren't we owed an explanation as to who is making up the shortfall? Someone must be going up by about 3 percent or more. This in unfair cherry picking of the numbers.

    Report this comment

    Tamara Knight

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

  • How about you stop wasting our money then you will have plenty in reserve. Lets start with not wasting 600k+ on the prefabs. Sell them for development for circa £4million! this will not only build many more homes but save us a fortune. Another option would be to reduce the tiers of management within IBC.. this would save fortunes too. The current Labour council has zero long term vision, it is wasteful and doesn't acknowledgelisten to its electorate. Building dozens of council houses is not what the town needs. Selling off council houses at a time when more are required is too not a very good strategy. If someone can afford to buy a property they should look to the private sector like most people. We can only dream that one day somebody with common sense and decency will lead the council, instead of these puppets on strings.

    Report this comment

    Rory Breaker

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

  • Doesn't seem much of an increase to be honest. Not sure how £220000 is going to fill the hole when it is facing a grant cut of £1.3 million this year and a further £1.3 million cut in 2015. If we want services we have to pay for them, sad but true. Damned if they do, damned if they don't!

    Report this comment

    Footyfan

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

  • How much is Travel Ipswich costing again?

    Report this comment

    Willy Warner

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

  • How much is Travel Ipswich costing again?

    Report this comment

    Willy Warner

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

  • How about recouping the huge amount of Council Tax owed and drastically reducing councillors' exorbitant expenses? Should be enough there to avoid any increases.

    Report this comment

    Cynical Sid

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

  • How about you stop wasting our money then you will have plenty in reserve. Let start with not wasting 600k+ on the prefabs. Sell them for development for circa £4million as offered this will not only build many more homes but save us a fortune. Another option would be to reduce the tiers of management within IBC.. this would save fortunes too. The current Labour council has zero long term vision, it is wasteful and doesn't acknowledgelisten to its electorate. Building dozens of council houses is not what the town needs. Selling off council houses at a time when more are required is too not a very good strategy. If someone can afford to buy a property they should look to the private sector like most people. We can only dream that one day somebody with common sense and decency will lead the council, instead of these puppets on strings.

    Report this comment

    Rory Breaker

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

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