Mid Suffolk District Council looks to increase council tax by 5p a week

Mid Suffolk District Council in Needham Market.

Mid Suffolk District Council in Needham Market. - Credit: Archant

Council tax in mid Suffolk could be raised as an authority looks to invest in its future.

Members of Mid Suffolk District Council’s executive committee recommended that a budget of £12million for 2015/16 should be approved at a meeting of the full council on February 26.

The budget, which is based on the continuation of the 2014/15 funding strategy to deliver the council’s transformation programme and strategic priority outcomes, relies on freezing council tax and taking a Government grant or increasing the council tax of a band D property by 5p per week to support the district council’s overall financial position.

It is believed the council tax increase will bring in an additional £85,000 to the district council.

Council leader and finance and resources portfolio holder Derrick Haley, told the meeting: “The whole point of the money is to invest in the future.

“If we don’t do this we won’t have the money to do these things.”

Speaking afterwards he added: “We’re getting less funding left right and centre.

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“One of the places we’re more certain of our income is having a reasonable tax base. If we increase it this year it helps us year on year.”

He said if the council were to freeze tax rates and take a Government grant, they would receive £35,000 less than if they were to increase tax.

He added: “I hope this will be fully supported and we make sure everyone understands our rationale behind it.”

The council’s transformation programme supports new ways of working that will in turn result in longer term savings, new income streams and better community outcomes.

But during the executive meeting, the transformation fund – which will deliver the programme – was questioned by councillors who raised concerns about member involvement in deciding who could receive money from fund.

A move to allocate more money to the fund in the new budget was also questioned by councillors, who suggested that out of the £4m placed in it last year, only £500,000 had been allocated.

District councillor Lord Blakenham said: “We were expecting to spend the £4m in 2014, and we need a further £2m.

“How are we going to spend it?”

Lord Blakenham was told the money was in the programme in case projects got to the point where they needed extra money from the fund. Officers said this was more likely to happen this year and was why a further £2m is required.

District councillor Penny Otton said the district council was going into “unknown water” and added there needed to be a different method to how members of the council would be involved in decisions in major sums of money.

There will also be an increase in charges, including trade waste collection and collecting waste from schools.

The executive committee also agreed to recommend an increase of 3% in council house rents, which equals an average rent increase of £2.46 a week, or a lower increase relating to the ‘limit rent’ fixed by government for next year, which could be 2.7%, equivalent to an average rent increase of £2.22 a week.