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Threat to Ipswich services from 2021 amid squeezed budgets

PUBLISHED: 16:59 27 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:59 27 January 2020

David Ellesmere, Ipswich Borough Council leader, warned that the council's budget had been squeezed by as much as £1.5m a year from central government. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

David Ellesmere, Ipswich Borough Council leader, warned that the council's budget had been squeezed by as much as £1.5m a year from central government. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Ipswich Borough Council Labour leader David Ellesmere gave a stark warning that the cut to the council’s budget from central government equated to between £500,000 and £1.5m a year – up to £6m over the next four years.

That has meant a 1.99% council tax increase will be introduced from April - around 11p a week for a Band B property.

And while services should be safe from cutbacks this year, Mr Ellesmere warned: "We are protecting services and we will continue to do that for as long as we are able to, but if the government continues to cut funding I do not feel we are going to be able to do that in the future."

"This year is probably one of the toughest budgets we have had to do."

To combat the funding gap a host of changes are to be made, including a voluntary redundancy scheme, attempts to increase income through Ipswich Borough Assets - the council's wholly-owned property acquisition firm - and reduced area committee budgets for community projects.

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One less grass cut will take place next year and funds earned through civil parking enforcement carried out on behalf of other authorities will be pumped into covering bus subsidies.

Improvements to energy efficiency are to be targeted, with new electric and low emission vehicles to replace old vehicles, solar panels installed on council homes where roofing is being replaced and better insulation for harder-to-heat homes.

Important services such as free brown bins, the summer iCard programme, out-of-hours noise disturbance service, subsidised bus routes and funding to voluntary organisations such as Citizens Advice are all to be protected.

The issue will be discussed at the next executive meeting before going to full council for a debate next month.

It is understood central government is prioritising adult social care authorities, such as Suffolk County Council, over district and borough authorities in its settlements for the year ahead.

The county council has already announced a 3.99% council tax increase for its part of the council tax bill - around £40 a year more for a Band B property.

In previous years, councils have been given a four year settlement in order to plan efficiently for the future, but authorities only have a settlement for next year, which has created uncertainty.


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