West Suffolk council tax plans for 2021 confirmed

West Suffolk Council has faced an £11.2m financial hit from Covid-19. Picture: ARCHANT

West Suffolk Council has approved its 2021 council tax plans - Credit: Archant

A council tax rise of between 3p and 22p per week has been approved for the West Suffolk Council element of the council tax bill from April.

West Suffolk Council's full council meeting on Tuesday night approved the 2021/22 budget which will see Band D properties in the former St Edmundsbury Borough Council area pay an extra 3p per week, while the former Forest Heath area will pay 22p extra per week.

The council's Conservative administration said that rise was in line with the harmonisation plan to unify council tax rates by 2022/23.

Sarah Broughton at the West Suffolk Council-owned Toggam solar farm in Lakenheath

West Suffolk Council cabinet member for finance, Sarah Broughton - Credit: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCIL

Conservative cabinet member for finance, Sarah Broughton, said the impact of Covid-19 on the authority's finances is anticipated to be £4.2million by the end of the next financial year.

"We must make provision and take steps that will continue services, but also be the heart of recovery for West Suffolk," she said.

"We are in a better position than many [other councils] due to the strong financial management at the core of what we do.

"This budget avoids draconian actions you might see elsewhere, and continues our plan for low council tax rises as part of our harmonisation process."

The authority said it had been forced to find savings of around £1m in the last year, with council tax income only making up around 20% of the authority's budget. The remainder comes from central government funding and its own income streams.

Plans to increase car park charges announced last year have been frozen for the time being.

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The budget was approved by 44 votes to 15.

Labour councillor Diane Hind Picture: MARIAM GHAEMI

West Suffolk Council Labour group leader Diane Hind said officers had been hamstrung by government funding - Credit: MARIAM GHAEMI

Group leader for the Labour cohort, Diane Hind, said finance officers have been "hampered by having to make up the shortfalls in funding from national government," and added: "The Labour group does not wish to be complicit in a budget-setting process that willingly accepts the government process of underfunding local authorities."

Ian Shipp, leader of the Independent group said: "I question the need to raise more income from residents at this point in time when we can surely utilise more reserves in the short term.

"I was always told that reserves were there for rainy days and I am afraid its pouring down."

The council tax rise will join the 4% increase already agreed by Suffolk County Council and the £14.94 increase for the policing element.