Suffolk’s 5% council tax rise largest for 15 years since protests over 18%

Suffolk's budget was agreed by the cabinet. It will be debated by the full council, pictured, next m

Suffolk's budget was agreed by the cabinet. It will be debated by the full council, pictured, next month. Picture: PAUL GEATER - Credit: Archant

Suffolk County Council’s element of tax bills this year will see the biggest percentage rise since the notorious 18.5% hike in 2003.

suffolk county council member richard smith

suffolk county council member richard smith - Credit: Archant

The total increase in the county’s element of council tax bills – 70% of the bill – will be 4.99%. That is 2.99% on the basic council tax and a 2% social care precept.

It will mean people living in a Band B home – the most numerous single band in Suffolk – will have to pay an extra £45.93 for county council services over the next year.

The outcry over the 18.5% increase was so loud that then Labour government changed the funding formula to ensure council tax rises were lower.

During the coalition from 2010-2015 Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles encouraged councils to freeze their tax rates. Suffolk froze their council tax bills from 2010 to 2016.

The council tax rise in 2003 sparked protests across the country, including in Ipswich. Picture: ARC

The council tax rise in 2003 sparked protests across the country, including in Ipswich. Picture: ARCHANT

However the current government is withdrawing Whitehall financial support for councils and is expecting them to fund more services locally.

Yesterday’s meeting of Suffolk County Council’s cabinet backed the rise – which is similar to other county councils across the country. Essex is putting up its council tax bills by the same formula and in Norfolk the county’s element of bills will go up by 6%.

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In the budget the government clearly signalled to councils that it expected them to put up their bills by this amount.

However the rise in council tax rises does not prevent the need for cuts – savings of £23.9m have been proposed in the county’s budget including £11m from the Adult Care Services budget.

Cabinet member for finance Richard Smith said: “I do not like having to put up council tax bills. I was elected in 2010 and this is the first time I will be voting for a rise in basic council tax rates(the social care precept was introduced two years ago).” He said the fact that this was the largest rise since 2003 showed how tightly the increases had been kept down over the last 15 years.

Labour said the cuts to Adult Care this year meant that the service had lost £71m since 2011/12.

Group leader Sarah Adams said the changes made it more difficult for people to stay in their own homes: “It is a disgrace that this administration claims to be preserving preventative measures when they are actively removing support that means people have to move to more expensive care homes.

“Not only are care homes more expensive, they are in increasingly short supply. Given that Suffolk County Council pay less than Norfolk for each care home place it is no surprise that care home providers deliver less services in our county and would rather provide good services in Norfolk where they get paid at more appropriate levels.”

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