March 8 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Households in Suffolk Coastal will face no rise in their council tax – for the fourth year running.
The district council will set its annual budget next Thursday and is recommended to peg its share of the annual tax demand for an average band D property at £149.40.
The majority of the tax will be the county council’s share, with contributions also due to the police and town and parish councils.
But councillors are being warned by finance chiefs of serious problems ahead and the cost of having to deal with reforms made by the coalition Government such as grant cuts.
Since the council launched a series of its own comprehensive spending reviews across all departments in 2010, it has saved £7.3million by reducing the cost of delivering services, operating services differently and by directing resources on key priorities where possible.
Robert Whiting, cabinet member for resources, said: “Although the budget shortfall for 2014/15 is addressed, the resources gap for the following years remains at some £0.944m rising to over £3.533m at the end of the Medium Term Financial Strategy (2017/18).
“This is largely as a consequence of various reforms introduced by the coalition Government, anticipated falls in grant funding and keeping the council tax increases at 0% across the period.
“Those deficits will have to be addressed over the coming months.
“Undoubtedly, many of the assumptions made at this time will need to be refined in the light of emerging information, in due course.”
“The council is faced with significant challenges over the coming years and the predicted cumulative shortfall in resources by 2017/18.”
The Localism Act puts pressure on councils to hold down spending – and gives communities the power to approve or veto council tax rises of 2%-plus through a referendum.
Suffolk Coastal is being recommended to set a budget for 2014/15 of £12.1m, which is a £584,000 reduction on the previous year due to a drop in central grant aid.
The budget will include £461,000 for pay and price increases and £781,000 for service improvements.
Mr Whiting said: “The council, particularly in later years, will have to take increasingly challenging decisions in order to deliver its key services despite the severely reducing resources.
“Added to these existing pressures are a number of immediate challenges, particularly in relation to the welfare reforms and Universal Credit which will make the task in hand even more difficult to manage as the demand for some key services are expected to increase.”
Mid Suffolk District Council has proposed to up council tax by 1.72% for a Band D property.