Ipswich council tax to rise by just under 2%

David Ellesmere

David Ellesmere

Ipswich council’s element of next year’s council tax bills is set to go up by just under the government limit of 2%.

The Labour council is set to recommend an increase next year of 1.93% in its element of bills – which would put 9p a week on the bills of Band B households, most numerous in the borough.

Council leader David Ellesmere said the borough’s increase would be less in percentage terms than the 1.997% rise being proposed by Conservative police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore.

And he said that with the county council freezing its council tax bills, the borough’s increase amounted to 0.38% of the total bill.

The rise was being proposed in the wake of a dramatic cut in central government support for local authorities, and the council was continuing to cut its administration costs.

The amount of government funding had fallen from £12 million in 2010 to £6 million next year – and the revenue support grant will be just £3 million.

Mr Ellesmere said despite the cut in government support and the having council tax increases that were below the retail price inflation rate, the council had managed to maintain its reserves which now stood at £2.6 million.

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Part of the savings would come from the proposal to buy the authority’s Grafton House headquarters.

He said: “There have been pressures, but we are in a reasonable financial shape and we are still able to undertake projects like building new council houses and rebuilding the Crown Car Park.

“The council’s transformation programme is saving £140,000 a year.”

Opposition Conservative leader Nadia Cenci said the council tax rise could not be justified, and would hit the poorest people hardest.

She said: “We said there were two things that the administration could do to ease the pressure on those with the lowest incomes – one was to freeze council rents and the other was to freeze council tax.

“We feel it is hypocritical to talk about a cost of living crisis and then to put up council tax bills like this. It isn’t hypocritical for the PCC to put up its element of council tax because he hasn’t been going on about a cost of living crisis.”

Ms Cenci said her group would be working on an alternative budget which they would submit to the next full meeting of the borough council at the end of this month.

Ipswich council is set to buy the freehold of its Grafton House headquarters – see page eight.