New budget figures for county council

SOCIAL care cost increases are the largest single element in Suffolk County Council's tax rise for next year, it was confirmed today.The cost of providing social services in the county is set to rise by nearly 14 per cent next year, costing the council an extra £18.

SOCIAL care cost increases are the largest single element in Suffolk County Council's tax rise for next year, it was confirmed today.

The cost of providing social services in the county is set to rise by nearly 14 per cent next year, costing the council an extra £18.5 million.

This is the largest single rise in the county's budget – larger even than the rise in spending on education, which takes up a much larger slice of the council's budget.

The other big winner in the budget is set to be the library and heritage service, which will see its budget increase by 11.4 per cent to £11.6 million.

The increase is mainly to cover extended opening hours for libraries, and supporting those in rural areas.

The county's overall budget is due to increase by 11 per cent in April – but, because this is not fully covered by government grants, the increase faced by council taxpayers is 18.5 per cent.

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Some services are seeing their budgets increased by much less than the overall rise.

The budget for education – seen as a government priority – is increasing by just 5.6 per cent in Suffolk.

But it will remain the largest element of the council tax bill – accounting for 58p in every pound spent by County Hall. This year it accounts for 61p of every pound spent by County Hall.

And the protection budget – which pays for the fire service and trading standards department – is to rise by just 5.7 per cent.

Reorganisation at County Hall has seen some major changes in the budgets of some central departments.

The resource management department is seeing its budget increased by more than three times – from £1.8 million to £6.1 million.

And the amount spent by the chief executive's department is increasing by 23 per cent – mainly because this department is now also responsible for youth offending schemes in the county.

Part of the increase in the environment and transport budget is the running costs of the new Martlesham Heath park and ride scheme.

Unlike the first two schemes built at Copdock and Anglia Park, there is no retail development linked to this scheme to cover the ongoing costs, and this will add £250,000 a year to the council's budget – not including the capital costs of building the centre.

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