Council tax rise lower than expected

SUFFOLK is set for its lowest council tax rise ever after council chiefs agreed on an increase of just 2.5% for 2005/06.The final settlement is better than expected, with an original figure of 2.

SUFFOLK is set for its lowest council tax rise ever after council chiefs agreed on an increase of just 2.5% for 2005/06.

The final settlement is better than expected, with an original figure of 2.9% forecast by Suffolk County Council.

It is also an improvement on last year when the increase was 3.8%, and means that an average D band property will have to pay £947.97 compared to the previous amount of £924.48.

The joint Labour and Liberal Democrat run authority made the decision yesterday in a meeting of the Executive Committee at Endeavour House, Ipswich.


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They decision was made after the Government gave Suffolk a better than expected revenue grant of £426million for 2005/06, a rise of £27million on last year, the fourth highest in the country.

David Rowe, portfolio holder for strategic and financial planning, said: "This is more good news for council tax payers, as the extra money in the final settlement has enabled us to make a further reduction to our proposed tax increase."

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"I am delighted to pass on these benefits to Suffolk residents and we now firmly expect to be setting one of the lowest council tax increases in the country."

It was also revealed that the council had made £10million worth of savings between 2004/05 and that a further £2million of savings had already been earmarked.

Kevan Lim, portfolio holder for economic and social regeneration, added: "This is a significant saving for the taxpayers of Suffolk. I think it shows that we have made tremendous efforts to produce one of the lowest council tax rises anywhere in the country while at the same time maintaining an efficient and improving authority."

But Jeremy Pembroke, leader for the Conservative group, said that while he welcomed the rise he had doubts over whether the elderly would feel its full benefit.

"I am very pleased for the people of the county and especially the pensioners who have had a particularly hard time with council tax over the last few years," he said.

"But to be honest I think they will still feel the pressure because pensions have only risen by 13.1% in four years compared to a 41.23% increase in council tax.

"The 18.5% rise in 2003 is still with us and will never go away. Although the last two years have seen relatively small increases they are simply premiums on this figure.

"I would question why the council have been able to make savings in the last two years but were not able to three years when they never even questioned the Governments poor financial settlement."

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