Stowmarket: Concern over potential drop to council’s income

Mid Suffolk District and Stowmarket town councillor Duncan MacPherson

Mid Suffolk District and Stowmarket town councillor Duncan MacPherson

TOWN and parish councils could face an unexpected fall in income next year, a councillor has warned.

Councillors in Stowmarket have written to Mid Suffolk District Council expressing concern over Government changes to local council grants.

Labour Stowmarket town and district councillor Duncan MacPherson claimed the town authority could be left with a shortfall of up to £70,000.

He said: “The Government has called this its council tax support scheme, but in reality it’s a council tax fix that allows the Government to cut its overall support and is likely to force local council taxes up as a result. In fact, Stowmarket agreed a small increase in its precept for the current year, with majority Conservative support, purely on the basis of the uncertainty and before getting the letter.”

Labour town councillor Suzanne Britton said: “Stowmarket Town Council, like other councils, supports many local groups and charities. It’s impossible to know what the effect of this cut might be.”

Mid Suffolk wrote to councils earlier in the year about the Government changes. The changes mean councils will be able to shape their own council tax support schemes.

The Government has said this will mean better protection for vulnerable people and will provide incentives for people to find and stay in work.

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This year Mid Suffolk has passed on a Government grant to town and parish councils to protect services, but the grant is not guaranteed for future years.

Mr MacPherson has written to the leader of Mid Suffolk, Derrick Haley, asking for the issue to be kept under review.

Conservative Mr Haley said the council would keep local authorities updated with further changes.

He said: “If Mid Suffolk does not receive the grant in 2014/15, it cannot pass it on and it will not be able to compensate the town and parishes from its own reducing resources.

“We are all responding to a national policy change from the Government and how it impacts on district and local council resources and believe that we have done more than was required in terms of helping towns and parishes to understand the implications.”

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