Council faces difficult tax equation

By David LennardMORE than £560,000-worth of savings will have to be made to keep next year's Council Tax rises to 10%, a new report has revealed.The average Council Tax levied by the district and parish councils for a Band D property in the Waveney district is currently £122.

By David Lennard

MORE than £560,000-worth of savings will have to be made to keep next year's Council Tax rises to 10%, a new report has revealed.

The average Council Tax levied by the district and parish councils for a Band D property in the Waveney district is currently £122.28 - an increase of 15.3% on the previous year.

Charges from Suffolk County Council and the police authority are then added to make up the householder's final Council Tax bill.


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Waveney District Council's portfolio manager for finance, Andrew Verney, said it was committed to an “unavoidable increase” in expenditure of £1.3 million next year.

That is to pay for such things as inflation-linked salary increases for employees and redundancy and early retirement costs arising as a result of the management review.

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The council is also committed to making stepped increases to its staff pension scheme and for 2004/2005 that is estimated at an additional £571,000.

“Central Government funding has been estimated to increase by 3% in 2004/5, increasing by £287,000,” said Mr Verney.

If Waveney District Council is to avoid “capping” by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, extra savings have to be found.

“The increase in expenditure implies a level of Council Tax increase, which based on the current information emanating from the office of the Deputy Prime Minister, may result in the use of targeted capping.

“In order to reduce the level of expenditure, savings will need to be found in order to reduce the budget requirement.”

To restrict the Council Tax rise to 10%, savings of £569,000 need to be found, while to keep the rise to 5%, the district council has to find savings of £801,000.

Waveney District Council has traditionally set the lowest Council Tax levels in Suffolk and is currently 34% below the average for the county.

“This has resulted in the council remaining unable to invest in new technologies and service departments, enforcing service level reductions in some areas in order to meet statutory requirements in others,” said Mr Verney.

“One further implication of having such a very low tax base is that any decision to raise further funds now will result in a disproportionately large percentage increase in Council Tax.”

The authority's executive will meet later this week and will be asked to consider spending reductions, Council Tax increases and potential areas where savings can be made.

david.lennard@eadt.co.uk

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