Councils in Suffolk and Essex could put up bills by an extra 1% next year
Council tax payers could see their bill rise further in April after the government eased the cap on rises.
Until now councils have been unable to put up council tax bills by more than 2% – although this year they can apply an extra 3% to cover the cost of social care.
Now the 2% limit has been increased to 3% – meaning county councils like Suffolk could put up their element of bills by 6%.
The change was announced by Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid as he announced the government’s settlement for local councils in the House of Commons.
He also announced that Suffolk would be one of 10 counties across the country that would be able to retain 100% of its business rates as an experiment from April. At present its councils can only retain 50% of business rates.
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Officials were still trying to digest these changes for Suffolk but county council leader Colin Noble said: “We are planning for a basic council tax increase of 1.99% and that is our position.
“But we are now checking the figures now and it will go to our cabinet and full council in the new year.”
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He also welcomed the chance to hold on to business rates: “Suffolk welcomes the Secretary of State’s announcement that it has been accepted as a 100% Business Rates pilot area in 2018-19.
“We are now studying the details of the scheme and will be working with colleagues in the borough and district councils to identify what this means for the whole Suffolk system.”
In Essex there was a welcome for plans to change the funding formula – but there remains a feeling that the county is second-best to London when it comes to government support for local government services.
Louise McKinlay, Cabinet Member for Resources, said: “It is vital we now contribute to the debate to ensure a fair funding system for local government, one that gives us the financial stability we deserve and need.
“We must bring an end to the current postcode lottery where Essex residents get just £193 per person to pay for services, compared to our London neighbours who receive £563 each.
“While we are fully equipped to cope with the challenges ahead because of our excellent financial management, there is so much more we want to do and could do with our fair share of national resources.”