Service fears as council sets lowest tax

OPPOSITION parties have branded a record low council tax increase for Suffolk householders “irresponsible and callous” because of the impact it will have on elderly and vulnerable people in the county.

Graham Dines

OPPOSITION parties have branded a record low council tax increase for Suffolk householders “irresponsible and callous” because of the impact it will have on elderly and vulnerable people in the county.

As council leaders announced a pre-election budget tax increase of 2.45% - 51p a week - Labour and Liberal Democrats geared themselves up to fight cuts in the social services budget and increased home care charges.

Kevan Lim, deputy Leader of the Labour Group, said the Tories planned to increase spending by �16million to finance projects such as a waste incinerator but at the same time were going to scythe �7m from social care.


You may also want to watch:


Labour called on the Tory leadership to follow President Barack Obama's lead and to freeze pay increases for all staff earning more than �50,000.

In its alternative proposals, the Labour group would reinstate �4m of the cuts in social care, freeze charges for home care services, scrap the incinerator project, and conduct a detailed review of all increased spending plans to make “serious savings in non-essential areas”.

Most Read

For the Liberal Democrats, Kathy Pollard accused the council for dressing up service cuts and increased charges as efficiency savings. “In reality the people they have affected most are the elderly and vulnerable people in the county, who have seen cuts in services amounting to �43m.”

Council leader Jeremy Pembroke hailed “the lowest level of council tax ever set by the county council”.

Mr Pembroke said: “In the midst of a severe recession, it was essential that we keep the council tax as low as possible without jeopardizing essential services.

“This increase of 2.45% is well below last year's increase of 3.75% and is lower than the Consumer Price Index of 3.1% and this year's pensions increase of 5%.”

Reg Hartles, from the group Protest Against Council Tax Suffolk, welcomed the low increase but cautioned against too much jubilation until the levies by the district and parish councils and the police authority were known.

“The increase might be small, but the elderly are still paying out too much in property taxes. It's time to introduce a new system of financing local government, which would also reduce the amount paid by pensioner households,” said Mr Hartles.

The increase means householders in average Band D properties will have to pay �1,100.19 for county services including education, social care, highways, consumer protection, and fire services. Last year's Suffolk precept was �1,073.88.

Suffolk set its new tax rate on the day the Office for National Statistics said Britain's oldest pensioners were spending nearly 40% of their money on household bills. Homes headed by someone aged over 75 pay almost 40% of their average weekly expenditure of �218 go on food, energy bills, housing and council tax in 2007.

The situation was only slightly better for households headed by a pensioner aged under 74 - this group spends around 30% of the average weekly expenditure of �321 on these items. The figures relate to 2007 and do not include the sharp rises in gas and electricity prices seen during 2008.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus