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Babergh cabinet backs 3% council tax rise as four years of further increases loom

PUBLISHED: 12:15 17 January 2020 | UPDATED: 12:15 17 January 2020

Babergh District Council will discuss the budget in February. Picture: JASON NOBLE

Babergh District Council will discuss the budget in February. Picture: JASON NOBLE

Jason Noble

A 3% council tax rise and 2.7% rise in council house rents have been backed by Babergh District Council's cabinet.

Babergh District Council leader John Ward said the four-year financial plan indicated that council tax rises were still needed. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNBabergh District Council leader John Ward said the four-year financial plan indicated that council tax rises were still needed. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The council's cabinet on Thursday agreed the first draft of the budget, which must now go to full council next month.

It proposes that the council will up its portion of the council tax bill by 3% - the highest allowable without a referendum - which equates to an additional £5 per year for a Band D property.

Suffolk County Council has already announced plans for a 4% council tax rise from April for its portion - roughly £40 a year extra.

The cabinet also agreed to a 2.7% rise in council house rent, which is also the maximum allowed by government.

Babergh District Council cabinet member for assets and investment, David Busby. Picture: DAVID GARRADBabergh District Council cabinet member for assets and investment, David Busby. Picture: DAVID GARRAD

But council officers said following four years of rent decreases the amount homes will pay is still below what it was in 2016.

The move means it is an additional £2.38 average increase in council house rent.

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John Ward, Conservative council leader, said: "We must continue with our efforts to become self sufficient by maximising our income streams, continuing to make efficiencies and productivity savings and also continue to find new ways of working.

"Core to our finances is the need to have a strong council tax base and from the perspective of the four-year plan the numbers do still show a compelling case for the need for council tax increases each year.

"This will ensure we can offset the ongoing cost pressures that we face."

According to Mr Ward, the authority has made savings of more than £17million since 2011 through investments, shared services and efficiencies, but still faces a cost pressure of around £2.6m going forward.

David Busby, Liberal Democrat councillor and cabinet member for assets and investment, said: "It's good to have some positive figures rather than always having to have savings.

"The only concern I have is for the future and I do think the way we have done things in the past won't be relevant for the future in many ways.

"We have got to look at some of the services we provide or don't provide that perhaps we should do - maybe bus services to villages.

"I think there is demand from the community that we are not necessarily aware of that we are going to need to do something about."

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