Ipswich council tax bills to increase to “safeguard services in the future”

Grafton House, the home of Ipswich Borough Council in Russell Road

Grafton House, the home of Ipswich Borough Council in Russell Road - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Borough’s element of council tax bills in the town is to go up by just under 2%, it was confirmed by a meeting of the full council last night.

Labour council leader David Ellesmere said the rise was needed to protect services in the future as the government prepares to eliminate its direct revenue support.

The borough is to put up its element of council tax bills by 1.93%. Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore is putting up its element of the tax bill by 1.997%, but the county council – the largest element of the bills – has frozen its council tax again.

The overall impact of these rises is to put up council tax bills by 0.59% in Ipswich. For the occupier of a Band B house – the most numerous in the town – this will be an annual rise of £7.42, or 14p a week.

Band B householders will receive an annual bill of £1,263.85.

The opposition Conservative group put forward a proposal for a freeze on its element of council tax, but this was rejected by the borough where Labour has an overwhelming majority.

Outlining the budget proposals, Mr Ellesmere said the rise was necessary because it would raise level from which council tax is collected in future years.

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He said: “This is not just a budget for current year, it is also looking to safeguard services in the future.”

The council had made substantial organisational changes and this had enabled the authority to save significant amounts of money without damaging front line services – it had been able to embark on the largest council house-building programme in the town for many decades.

Opposition leader Nadia Cenci presented her group’s amendments to the budget which included cutting the editions of the council newsletter Ipswich Angle to two a year and reducing funding for area committees.

She said these moves would save more than £100,000 and would enable the council to take advantage of the government’s £135,600 bonus for freezing council tax.

She dismissed the comparison with the Conservative PCC’s increase: “The police commissioner has not gone on about the cost of living crisis – and this is the first time he has increased his precept. The borough has come up with one increase on top of another.”

She said the council tax increase would be particularly difficult for council tenants who were seeing their rents increase.

Mr Ellesmere accused the Conservatives of “political posturing” – saying that area committee budgets were valuable for getting community improvements and members of Mrs Cenci’s group had been keen to secure funding from them.

The three-strong Liberal Democrat group on the council voted against the Conservative amendment, backing Labour when both that and the full budget were debated.

The amendment was rejected and the budget approved by an overwhelming vote.