East Anglians pay more for services

HOUSEHOLDERS across Suffolk and Essex are paying more for council services than in London and the majority of Britain's major cities and towns, according to a Government survey on council tax rates.

Graham Dines

HOUSEHOLDERS across Suffolk and Essex are paying more for council services than in London and the majority of Britain's major cities and towns, according to a Government survey on council tax rates.

Average tax bills in the shires are �2 a week higher than in London and �1.50 a week than the average in unitary and metropolitan districts.

The figures were released as Department for Communities and Local Government prided itself on overseeing average council tax rises of just 2.6% from April 1, the lowest increase since it was introduced by the Conservatives in 1993 to replace the poll tax.


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West Suffolk Tory MP Richard Spring said: “It costs more to deliver services such as waste collection and highways maintenance in rural areas, but Government grants to councils do not recognise this.

“Ministers are obsessed with believing that shire areas are a rural idyll where people can afford to pay. That just is not true.”

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Mr Spring said “A �40 a year rise in council tax may not sound a lot, but for hard pressed families, any extra costs are horrendous. In Scotland, council tax was frozen. That is an approach the Government should have adopted in England.

“Now more than ever, local authorities need to be more frugal - and that means controlling the ever increasing pay scales of senior officers.”

Local government minister John Healey said: “Most councils across the country are tightening their belts, which is exactly what the public wants to see. The figures show that the vast majority of local authorities have kept increases to a minimum.”

The highest increase in the region has been imposed by Suffolk Police Authority at 4.27% while Ipswich remains one of the most heavily taxed communities in England, with a total Band D tax bill increasing 2.79% to �1,563 for county, borough, and police services.

But when parish precepts are added to council tax demands in rural areas, residents in Leiston, Stowmarket, Laxfield and Coddenham will also have to pay council tax above �1,500.

In Essex, average bills in Basildon and Harlow have also crashed through the �30 a week mark.

The county council element makes up the largest percentage of the bill. In Suffolk, it is �1,100.16 which also includes spending on fire and rescue services.

In Essex, the county council is levying a council tax of �1,066.50, but when the separate fire and rescue authority bill of �64.62 is added making a total of �1,131.12, it works out that strategic services in Suffolk cost �1.50 a week less to deliver.

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