More residents face £1,000-plus bills

By David LennardHUNDREDS more households in north Suffolk will have to pay more than £1,000 in council tax for the first time.It was widely expected people living in band D properties would see their council tax bills top £1,100.

By David Lennard

HUNDREDS more households in north Suffolk will have to pay more than £1,000 in council tax for the first time.

It was widely expected people living in band D properties would see their council tax bills top £1,100.

But figures released by Waveney District Council have revealed many people living in band C homes will also be receiving bills of more than £1,000.

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Suffolk County Council, Suffolk Police Authority and Waveney District Council are all increasing their share of the council tax bills by more than the rate of inflation this year.

The county council share is up by more than 18%, six times the rate of inflation, while the district council's share will rise by more than 15%, more than five times the rate of inflation.

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Figures released by the finance department at Lowestoft Town Hall showed a band D property owner will pay £890.28 to the county council, £109.35 to the police authority and £122.28 to the district council, giving a total bill of more than £1,100.

However, people living in band C properties - which include smaller three-bedroom semi-detached homes - will also see their total bill break through the £1,000 barrier.

People living in band C properties in Halesworth will see a total council tax bill of £1,005.16; in Wrentham of £1,002.79; in Wangford with Henham of £1,002.85; in Beccles of £1,009.98; in Bungay of £1,000.63; in Worlingham of £1,009.85; in Reydon of £1,000.68; in Rumburgh of £1,009.82; and in Westhall of £1,000.11.

For the 2002/2003 year, householders living in a band C property in Halesworth paid £842.64 and they will now face an increase of more than £160.

Ironically, in Southwold, where property prices are at their highest in north Suffolk, the council tax bill is one of the lowest in the district because the town council does not set a precept as it receives incomes from other sources.

Band C property owners in Southwold will pay £991.43 a year and band D property owners £1,115.36.

Pensioners leaders and others representing people on low or fixed incomes have condemned the scale of the increases for council taxpayers.

Jack Thain, chairman of the Suffolk Pensioners' Association, who lives in the Waveney area, said he was “extremely concerned” about the impact such large rises would have on elderly people.

“These rises will more than wipe out any other increases that pensioners and others on fixed incomes will receive this year,” he added.

Independent district councillor Irene Turrell said it was “impossible” for councillors to justify such large increases to constituents.

“There are an awful amount of people in the Waveney area who are on fixed incomes and they will see the money they have coming in rise by the inflation rate of 2.9%,” she added.

“It is impossible then for councillors to justify such a large rise in council tax when services are being cut at the same time.”

Mrs Turrell said the rises would mean “misery” for many people, including pensioners and young families.

“I am not trying to make any political point, but for the people who are just above the limit where they receive state help with their council tax bills such large increases will hit very hard indeed,” she added.

“It will be a real blow to pensioners and to young families who are already struggling financially.”

The average band A council tax bill in the Waveney district will be about £750 a year; £875 for band B; £1,000 for band C; £1,125 for band D; £1,380 for band E; £1,630 for band F; £1,880 for band G; and £2,250 for band H.

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