May 21 2013 Latest news:
By Paul Geater
Friday, January 18, 2013
Borough leaders are considering increasing their element of council tax bills for the first time in three years.
The borough’s element of council tax last increased in 2010 when the then Conservative/LibDem administration put it up by just under two per cent.
Now the Labour administration that is running the council is considering a similar increase in April – which would cost occupants of “average” homes in the borough 9p a week.
Borough leader David Ellesmere said no final decision had yet been made about the council tax bill for 2013/14 – but putting it up by 2pc had not been ruled out.
The Department of Communities and Local Government pays a bonus to local authorities who freeze council tax bills.
In Ipswich’s case this is £130,000 – equivalent to a 1pc rise in council tax. However there is no guarantee that this bonus will be repeated after next year.
Mr Ellesmere said changes in government funding meant that the council was facing serious funding shortfalls in future years.
He said: “We are looking at all options, but cannot rule out increasing council tax bills. Even if we did that there could be serious cuts in some of the front-line services we provide.
“Once we studied the local government settlement from the end of last year, it became clear that the government is cutting back quite severely – although I defy anyone to understand how they calculate the figures!”
Mr Ellesmere said that while the current changes would lead to the council losing an extra £135,000 next year, changes in future years could leave the authority with a £1.3 million shortfall.
“We would need to deal with that and there would have to be serious decisions made,” he added.
Conservative opposition leader Chris Stewart said his group would oppose any increase in council taxes.
He said: “I do not know all the detailed figures, but any increase in council tax would have to be offset against the support we get from the government – so it doesn’t make any sense.
“And when people are really struggling to meet their bills they don’t need another demand like this from the council.”
Meanwhile the county council was today expected to confirm its element of council tax bills – the largest element – will remain frozen and police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore is pledging that he will not put up the police element of the bills during the next financial year.
n Should the borough put up its element of council tax bills? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail email@example.com