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Forest Heath homes due seven years of council tax increases

PUBLISHED: 11:45 02 February 2019

Council tax levels for the two councils in West Suffolk will begin to align from April. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Council tax levels for the two councils in West Suffolk will begin to align from April. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

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Homes in Forest Heath are set to see a small increase in their district council precept, as council tax levels between the two West Suffolk councils begin to align.

Councillor Stephen Edwards from Forest Heath District Council said the aligning of council tax would have happened regardless of whether the two councils merged. Picture: GREGG BROWNCouncillor Stephen Edwards from Forest Heath District Council said the aligning of council tax would have happened regardless of whether the two councils merged. Picture: GREGG BROWN

St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council will merge in May to become West Suffolk Council.

Currently the two councils have differing levels for the district/borough council element, but a small rise is set to be approved for Forest Heath homes as part of a seven-year plan to align the two.

It means Forest Heath homes taxed at Band D – the government benchmark – will have a £4.95 increase on their bill from this year – just under 10p a week.

St Edmundsbury homes at Band D will not see an increase.

Ian Houlder from St Edmundsbury Borough Council said the budget would cement a strong financial position. Picture: ST EDMUNDSBURY BOROUGH COUNCILIan Houlder from St Edmundsbury Borough Council said the budget would cement a strong financial position. Picture: ST EDMUNDSBURY BOROUGH COUNCIL

The change is set to be approved on Tuesday at the shadow executive meeting.

In a joint statement, resources and performance cabinet members Stephen Edwards (Forest Heath) and Ian Houlder (St Edmundsbury), said: “The proposals being put forward sets a balanced budget for the next two years.

“Creating the new council not only helps cement that strong financial position but means the new authority will be in a better place to seize investment and income opportunities while being able to drive prosperity, jobs and the economy for our communities and businesses.

“It also means that we will be in a better position to face some of the financial challenges that councils across the UK are already facing.

“Therefore, the council will continue the policy of investing heavily in our families and communities work, supporting new businesses coming to West Suffolk while delivering high quality services.

“As part of the creation the council tax levels for the both authorities will be harmonised over seven years.

“This means the former Forest Heath area, will see a rise in council tax of just under 10p a week but this would have been the case whether a new council had been created or not.

“It was also part of the business case when the plans were announced more than a year ago and have been approved by government.

“The shadow authority is also going through harmonising various policies ready for the beginning of April and the creation of the new West Suffolk Council.”

Among those areas being brought into line are taxi fares and parking charges, with work aligning all areas of council business having been underway for more than a year.

Suffolk County Council’s cabinet last week approved a 4% council tax increase, although it still needs to be signed off by full council on February 14 to go ahead, while the Police and Crime Commissioner has increased the policing element by 12.7%.

It means that overall, most Suffolk homes are set to see a rise of around 4.7% in council tax bills.

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