Suffolk: Big freeze for council tax

HOUSEHOLDERS across Suffolk could finally have some good news from their local authorities over the next few weeks – council tax bills are set to be frozen.

District and borough councils across Suffolk are set to follow the county’s lead and freeze their bills – and the police authority is also expected to follow suit.

The only tier of local government not expected to follow this lead is the town and parish councils across Suffolk.

Some are expected to go for a council tax freeze – but others, like Felixstowe Town Council, see 2011 as the final opportunity to get their finances in order before the government turns the financial screws on them.

Ipswich borough council is expected to announce what it is proposing to do with council tax next week. Indications from Grafton House are that there will be no increase.

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Mid Suffolk, Babergh, and Suffolk Coastal councils have already committed themselves to a freeze in council tax.

The government has announced a 2.5 per cent bonus to councils which freeze their tax levels – meaning that any rise would have to cover the loss of this bonus.

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At Mid Suffolk, Derrick Haley, councillor responsible for finance, said: “This year we have had our grant reduced by �900,000 and this is a huge hole to fill.

“We have focused our attention on improving our efficiency so that we can limit the impact on front-line services.”.

The county will formally vote on its council tax freeze on February 17, although its budget was approved by its cabinet this week.

The Suffolk Police Authority will decide on its budget later in the month, but chairman Colin Spence said the current intention was to follow the councils’ lead and come up with a freeze.

He said: “We cannot say that for certain until the budget is set at the Police Authority meeting later this month, but that is certainly our intention.”

Although some parishes and towns are considering increases, their elements of total council tax bills are so small they are unlikely to have a major impact on the total bills dropping through letterboxes from the start of April.

Tax payers in Felixstowe will see a rise in part of their bills this year – to set up a community fund.

The aim is create a pot of money which the town council will be able to use to help save activities, services and facilities which might be axed in the savage cuts being made by district and county councils.

The town council agreed to increase its tax to allow a fund of around �19,000 to be established.

Its overall tax will increase by 10.6%, just over �40,000, which will mean a Band D household paying �47.90, an extra �4.31 for the year or eight pence a week from April.

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