Muddled announcement causes uncertainty

TAX rises in Suffolk Coastal are uncertain after "a muddled announcement" from Whitehall which has left council officials with only half the information.

TAX rises in Suffolk Coastal are uncertain after "a muddled announcement" from Whitehall which has left council officials with only half the information.

Government has only told the council one of its two grant allocations – leaving MPs to crow about generous central help with local councillors unable to say whether the situation is good or bad.

But Suffolk Coastal leader Ray Herring is not optimistic, believing the authority's increase will be around 2.4 per cent – £150,000 extra this year.

"That's not sufficient to cover pay and price increases, let alone all the extra statutory duties which the government has imposed upon us, the cost of extra recycling, or any improvements to services or new projects for our communities," said Mr Herring.


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The council was looking to make £1.5 million of savings in its budget and was making good progress but still had work to do.

The government's announcement said the council would receive £6.47 million in grant compared with £7.42 million last year.

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But while that is £1 million less than last year, the government has not said how much money the council will get to deal with housing and council tax benefit.

"It was a very muddled announcement and has left us in a fairly uncertain position in terms of government grant for next year," said Mr Herring.

"They were supposed to have brought the announcement forward to put councils in a better position to plan their finances and really we are no further forward and they cannot tell us when we will hear about the other part of the grant from the Work and Pensions department to give us a full figure."

Changes in management at the council have already created savings of £480,000 and a number of other aspects of the authority's work are being analysed which could result in up to £830,000 more being saved.

Councillors are also being asked to look at ways of improving income, and free car parks are set to be come a thing of the past.

WEBLINK: www.suffolkcoastal.gov.uk

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