Cost-cutting drive keeps tax low

OTHERS will follow our example – that was the bold prediction from a council leader today as his authority managed to keep its tax rise to just 7.7 per cent.

OTHERS will follow our example – that was the bold prediction from a council leader today as his authority managed to keep its tax rise to just 7.7 per cent.

Ray Herring said while Suffolk Coastal was not pleased to have set an increase twice the rate of inflation, councillors and officers had shown that enormous rises were not necessary, thanks to an efficiency drive.

"At least two district councils in Suffolk were given increases in government grant of £500,000 and two others £750,000," said Mr Herring.

"Suffolk Coastal received just £9,000 extra this year. We feared that would mean a council tax rise of around 20pc.

"But both councillors and officers, and the cabinet, have put a lot of time and effort into our budget and we have managed to keep the rise to 7.7pc while not cutting services and, in fact, improving many services.

"Other councils will be looking at what we have managed to do very closely and will be following that in years to come – I am sure of that," he said.

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The council set a budget of £12.7 million, which will mean the average Band D household will pay £114.30 from April, compared with £106.11 currently, an £8.19 increase.

Bills will have added to them the parish or town council precept, county council tax – the largest part of the bill, which has risen 18.5 pc – and a sum to pay for the police.

Mr Herring said that the council's efficiency drive had eliminated £1.2m from the budget, had been a major part of keeping the tax rise down.

This has been managed even though the increase in National Insurance, the latest national pay award, and new statutory service requirements, increased council costs by more than £700,000.

He also highlighted several areas where services would be improved over the coming 12 months.

These include efforts to increase the amount of waste recycled to 36pc through providing a paper recycling crate to every household, increasing kerbside collections and extending the green waste initiative.

WEBLINK: www.suffolkcoastal.gov.uk

N New boundaries drawn up for the electoral battle in Suffolk – see page 9.

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