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Four years of council tax increases on horizon as budget proposals unveiled

PUBLISHED: 13:38 10 January 2019 | UPDATED: 13:38 10 January 2019

Babergh council leader John Ward said savings of more than £6m achieved through the council's move to Endeavour House in Ipswich had

Babergh council leader John Ward said savings of more than £6m achieved through the council's move to Endeavour House in Ipswich had "vindicated" the decision Picture: ARCHANT

Households in Babergh are set to face a further four years of council tax rises from April – as the district braces itself for the “most difficult time financially” it has ever seen.

Babergh leader John Ward said the council was facing cost pressures which had prompted the need for an increase in council tax Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNBabergh leader John Ward said the council was facing cost pressures which had prompted the need for an increase in council tax Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Babergh District Council’s cabinet met on Thursday morning where the first draft proposals of its budget for next year were unveiled.

Among the headline measures are a planned increase in council tax of £5 per annum – the equivalent of 10p per week – for Band D properties.

Savings of £2.4million have also been identified.

Speaking during the cabinet meeting, Conservative council leader John Ward confirmed it was eyeing four years of council tax rises.

“We will continue to do these increases without needing to go to a referendum – £5 per annum for the next two years and 3% for the following two years,” he said.

“This will ensure we can grow our council tax revenues to ensure we can offset the cost pressures we face.”

Mr Ward said he recognised it would impact on residents, but squeezed budgets from central government meant local authorities were having to make savings.

Frank Lawrenson, Conservative cabinet member for assets and investments said the budget showed the council was “entering potentially the most difficult time financially over the next five years we have ever seen”.

It is understood the £2.4m of savings needed would not impact on frontline services, but would be covered by increasing income from property rental and investment, as well as cutting staff costs.

However, council officers said the staff cost savings would not be redundancies but would be achieved through cutting back on temporary and external consultancy use, as well as reducing the ‘disturbance allowance’ – a fund set up to help staff who had to travel from Suffolk into Ipswich following the council’s move to Endeavour House.

Independent councillor Derek Davis, cabinet member for organisational delivery, added: “I am really concerned about the council tax rise for all our residents, but that’s parish, district, county council, police so there is going to be a real bind.

“We are in for a bad year and that’s going to hurt our residents, but we understand why.”

The proposals are currently in the first draft, and will return for further discussion at both cabinet and full council meetings in February before being adopted.

Another measure was a plan to borrow a further £25m for CIFCO Capital Ltd – the council’s joint commercial property acquisition firm with Mid Suffolk – to invest, which aimed to create additional income for the councils.

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