'Scrap council tax' say campaigners

CAMPAIGNERS last night called for council tax to be scrapped after it emerged bills in Suffolk had soared by 45% in six years - more than twice the rate of pension increases.

Graham Dines

CAMPAIGNERS have called for council tax to be scrapped after it emerged bills in Suffolk had soared by 45per cent in six years - more than twice the rate of pension increases.

Householders will see a 4.2pc yearly rise when 2008-9 bills come into effect tomorrow, meaning bills will be more than £400 higher than in 2002-3.

While this year's rise is one of the smallest increases for a decade, protestors said the damage had been done with some huge hikes in previous years and some of society's most vulnerable people were facing “real hardship”.

The biggest share of tax is levied by county councils to pay for services such as social care, consumer protection, roads, libraries, and subsidies for public transport.

In Suffolk, the county council increase amounts to an extra 74p a week, or 3.75pc.

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Local government minister John Healey heralded the national average rise of 4pc as “the lowest for 14 years” but anti-council tax campaigners spoke of their anger at the rises with a backdrop of cuts to local services and the appointment of new Suffolk County Council chief executive Andrea Hill with a salary of up to £220,000 a year.

Reg Hartles, of the Protest Against Council Tax Suffolk (PACTS) group, said: “The old and vulnerable are now struggling under the burden of rising prices and bills. There is real hardship.”

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