Audio: Tax rises pegged below inflation

COUNCIIL tax payers in a Suffolk district will face rises of below the rate of inflation, it was confirmed today.

James Mortlock

COUNCIL taxpayers in a Suffolk district will face rises of below the rate of inflation, it was confirmed today.

Babergh District councillors have backed recommendations for the increase for 2009/10, which they authority bosses say equates to hike of “barely a penny more a day”.

But bosses warned the authority would face tough decisions over spending as the authority faces targets of �1million in extra savings next year.

From April 2009 the Babergh-part of local residents' council tax bills will rise by 2.9% - 0.1% below the latest inflation rate of 3% -to �134.96 per year for a Band D property. This means that Babergh retains its position for yet another year as the Suffolk council with the second-lowest Council Tax levels.

Nick Ridley, the council's Strategy Committee Chairman said the slight rise was the result of “unstinting efforts of councillors and staff in identifying even more efficient ways of working and the careful financial management of our resources”.

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He stressed: “That this is not a one-off achievement is shown by the fact that the increase in Babergh's council tax levels over the last six years is in line with inflation for that period. In addition, extra resources have been found to support Babergh's service priorities including affordable housing, community projects and recycling.”

However, Mr Ridley expressed deep concern about the hard choices facing even a prudent council such as Babergh: “The grant we are likely to get from the Government for next year is likely to be only 2% (up). That, allied with the need to make even further efficiency savings of 3% per year will make Babergh's impressive track record ever harder to maintain in the future.

“Some particularly hard decisions may need to be made in the future - most obviously next year where we will have to find about �1m in extra savings.”