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PM blamed for tax rise

PUBLISHED: 22:04 19 February 2002 | UPDATED: 11:22 03 March 2010

WHITEHALL is being blamed for the need to raise council tax bills in the Suffolk Coastal area by around three times the rate of inflation this year.

Cabinet members meet tonight to discuss the final figures for the council tax for the year ahead, and look set to enforce an 8.

WHITEHALL is being blamed for the need to raise council tax bills in the Suffolk Coastal area by around three times the rate of inflation this year.

Cabinet members meet tonight to discuss the final figures for the council tax for the year ahead, and look set to enforce an 8.9 per cent increase.

It will mean average band D households in Felixstowe, The Trimleys, Woodbridge, Martlesham and Kesgrave having to pay £106.11 for the district council's services – a rise of £8.64.

But the Conservative council says the steep rise is not its fault, and puts the blame firmly at the door of Prime Minister, Tony Blair, whose Labour government is imposing more and more unnecessary bureaucracy on councils but not giving them the cash to carry it out.

Council leader, Ray Herring, said the council had little choice but to agree the rise unless it wanted to cut the quality of its services.

"The cabinet has worked hard to minimise the increase and has succeeded in keeping its recommendation at just below nine per cent, while protecting all our services and bringing in real improvements in many areas," said Mr Herring.

"Sacrificing some of our quality services or bringing in high council tax increases are increasingly a choice central Government now presents to us.

"The Government is insisting that councils take on a whole raft of new statutory duties, many of which are unnecessarily bureaucratic, but is not giving rural councils in the shires adequate funding to meet the extra costs of taking on these new tasks.

"We have also been hit by the fall in interest rates. Suffolk Coastal is an efficient, debt-free council and the lower rates result in a considerable drop in income from our investment portfolio.

"Fortunately this year we have managed to protect all services, but Government must meet its obligations in funding local councils fully in future years or basic local services will be under threat."

The council's budget is set to only increase by 4.7pc to £12,133,400. A report to cabinet shows that savings of £266,000 have been virtually wiped out by a drop of £250,000 in the income the authority earned from its investments.

The two largest factors in the increased budget is a £477,000 anticipated rise in prices and pay, and the estimated £463,000 cost of additional statutory requirements placed on Suffolk Coastal by the Government.

The council will set the tax on February 28.


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