Council tax rise set to be confirmed

A COUNCIL tax rise of between 61p and 77p a week seems likely as Suffolk councillors try to balance their books.

Graham Dines

A COUNCIL tax rise of between 61p and 77p a week seems likely as Suffolk councillors try to balance maintaining essential services while sticking to their manifesto promise of affordable annual increases.

The county council will announce tomorrow morning what increase they are planning, but it is unlikely to be higher than the 3.75% set for the current financial year.

Norfolk County Council is being recommended to increase its tax by 2.95% while Cambridgeshire is to set a figure of 4.7%, an increase of 88p a week.

Consumer price inflation has fallen to 3.1% while the retail price index last month, which takes account of mortgage rates, fell to just 0.9%, the lowest level for 28 years.

Suffolk has received a cash settlement from the Government of �162million, an increase of 4.9%. The council has already said it will increase its spending on services for older people services by �5million and by �5.2m for vulnerable children,

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The council will also have to find �2.1m to pay the Government's increased landfill tax, �4m for managing and reducing the amount of waste going to landfill, and �16.5m to cover inflation for council goods and services of 6.6.%.

A 2.95% increase in council tax will mean that householders in average Band D properties will see their bills for county services - social care, libraries, roads, public and consumer protection - rise by �31.67 a year, or 61p a week.

A 3% increase will cost �32.21 a year or �32.21 a week while a 3.75% rise, the same as in the current, will cost an extra �40.27 a year or 77p a week.

On top of the Suffolk, residents will have to pay a district and parish council levy as well as the bill for policing.

The county council is still waiting to learn its fate under the current review of unitary government ordered by Communities Secretary Hazel Blears. If the county is abolished, this will be the last budget it sets.

Elections to the county council are due in June but no indication has come from Ms Blears that they will go ahead in Suffolk.