Jane Storey

Suffolk: County freezes council tax take

Wednesday, January 30, 2013
6.25 AM

SUFFOLK’S element of council tax bills is set to be frozen for another year after the county’s cabinet backed the budget for 2013/14.

For the third year running the county’s element of council tax bills will be frozen – bringing a bonus grant from the government’s department of local government.

As the cabinet was agreeing the budget, Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles was publishing a list of local authorities that would be receiving the bonus next year.

He also made it clear that other councils which also froze their council tax bills would be eligible for the bonus.

Mr Pickles’ comments come just days after he attacked authorities who are increasing their council tax bills by just under the government’s 2% threshold which would trigger a local referendum.

Suffolk’s cabinet backed the budget which will see savings of almost £25million on the budget next year _ but there was a harsh warning about the future prospects for local government from deputy council leader Jane Storey.

Presenting the budget proposals, she said: “Future funding for local government is looking worse than bleak.”

She warned that the council was likely to have to find further major savings in the years after 2014.

Her warning was taken up by backbench Conservative Richard Smith who said whoever was in power after May’s elections, the county would be looking at making savings of up to £140million by 2018.

During the debate there were calls from opposition LibDem and Labour councillors for more to be spent on supporting schools because of the concerns about Suffolk’s slide down the league tables.

This prompted council leader Mark Bee to declare his support for children and young people’s spokesman Graham Newman who has been at the eye of the storm. Mr Bee said no one could have worked harder and could be more committed to improving standards in Suffolk’s schools and he was sure Mr Newman was the right person for the job – a statement that prompted a ripple of applause among Conservative councillors at the meeting.

Most borough and district councils in Suffolk are also planning to freeze council tax – and police commissioner Tim Passmore is also planning to freeze his element of the tax in 2013/14.