Mid Suffolk cabinet approves council tax and rent rise
- Credit: Jason Noble
Budget proposals that will result in a council tax increase and the maximum council house rent rise permitted have moved a step closer.
Mid Suffolk District Council's cabinet on Tuesday agreed the 2020/21 budget proposals, which must now go to full council next month to be signed off.
It proposes a 1.66% rise in its element of the council tax - £2.76 a year for a Band D property - as well as a rise of 2.7% for council house rent.
Central government rules had dictated a rent freeze over the last four years, and permitted a rise of no more than 2.7% for authorities for the year ahead.
In Mid Suffolk that equates to £2.19 per week more, while sheltered housing tenants also face a £2 per week general increase on their bills and a further 62p per week increase in utility bills.
Councillor John Whitehead, Conservative cabinet member for finance, said that the council needed to be in a position where it wasn't reliant financially on the New Homes Bonus from central government, which ceases in 2023.
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He said: "We have seen a significant fall in funding at local government and going forward we know the district councils are no the priority for central government.
"We need to stand on our own two feet."
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Addressing council house rent, Mr Whitehead said: "A house with a rent of £80 per week before the four years reduction will have a rent after this increase of £78.92.
"It's really important to realise that tenants will be paying less for the same property than they were in March 2016."
Concerns were raised by the opposition Green group over budget proposals to spend £162,000 on IT and phone upgrades, but Mr Whitehead said those were necessary.
Rachel Eburne, leader of the Greens also raised fears about pots of money being put aside.
She said: "I am really concerned we are not spending that. We are not here as a council to stop our money - we are here to actually invest money into our communities and benefit local businesses."
She urged the council to "take a leap" with some of the budget proposals put forward by her group which she said could deliver economic benefits.
The proposals will return to cabinet on February 10 before final full council debate on February 27.