Suffolk council tax increase revealed

COUNCIL taxpayers in Suffolk are facing increases of almost 2.5% in April, it can be revealed today.

Paul Geater

COUNCIL taxpayers in Suffolk are facing increases of almost 2.5% in April, it can be revealed today.

The county council element of council tax bills - which makes up about two thirds of the total for most households - is expected to increase by 2.45%, the same increase as last year.

That will put the cost of the county's element of council tax bills for government average Band D homes up by �26.95 for the year - the equivalent of 50p a week extra. However most households in Suffolk will pay less than that because the vast majority of homes in the county are in Bands A to C.

And the rise should allow the county council to avoid making any of its staff redundant - although the number of people actually employed by the authority is expected to continue to fall.

Details of the county council's tax increase proposals are due to be published later today.

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They will be discussed by the county's cabinet next Tuesday, February 2, and will be formally approved by the council at its next full meeting on February 18.

Staff at the county will have a collective sigh of relief at the news about jobs after a difficult week for the public sector in the region.

Cambridgeshire County Council last week announced it is to shed 300 jobs over the next five years while Norfolk said it was to cut 65 next year.

Suffolk's deputy leader Jane Storey - who is responsible for the budget - said the flexible workforce at Endeavour House meant it was not necessary to look for compulsory job losses.

She said: “We have been able to move people if necessary and whenever a job becomes vacant there is a long hard look to see if it is necessary.”

Opposition leader Kathy Pollard said the jobs guarantee should be seen in the context of the council seeing a 10% staff turnover every year.

She said: “With both the Conservatives and Labour saying there will be huge pressures for cutbacks in government spending, there will continue to be pressure on the county council.

“With the government saying spending on health and education is protected, it will put a great deal of pressure on other services.

“Children's and young people's services and adult care services are coming under particular pressure - adult services is facing increased demand as people's savings run out.”

A spokeswoman for staff union UNISON said: “We are pleased to hear that Suffolk County Council is not planning job losses for its staff who deliver vital services to the people of Suffolk which are highly valued.

“However we are alarmed about some of the other proposals the county council has made.

“These will have an unfortunate impact on staff, many of whom are already low paid, in terms of working conditions and their pay.”