Tax increases announced

COUNTY chiefs are to increase council tax by 3.75 per cent, it has been announced today.The increase, which will come into effect for the financial year beginning in April, is below the expected average increase across the UK of four per cent.

COUNTY chiefs are to increase council tax by 3.75 per cent, it has been announced today.

The increase, which will come into effect for the financial year beginning in April, is below the expected average increase across the UK of four per cent.

The 3.7 pc rise will see the county element of council tax bills for a band B home - the most numerous in Ipswich - increase by about £30 a year.

A band D home, the average dwelling according to the government, will increase by about £39.

Jeremy Pembroke, leader of Suffolk County Council, said a better than expected government grant has allowed the authority to pass on a relatively low increase to householders in the county.

Meanwhile an additional £7million is to be ploughed into services, with much of the money being used to cover predicted cuts that were proposed prior to the settlement being announced.

Most Read

Included in this a “one-off” injection of £2.5million to the county's roads maintenance budget, while £1million will go to subsidised public transport and £2.3million

to adult services including home care.

Mr Pembroke said: “Deciding where to spend the money means we had to make some tough decisions and as always, we listened to your views to decide where the money would be best spent.

“You asked us to keep the council tax as low as possible while providing good value-for-money services.

“I believe we have struck this balance, thanks to better partnership working and efficiencies.”

Today' announcement has been attacked by the opposition Labour Group as a “smoke and mirrors” budget.

Kevan Lim, Labour Lead for resources, finance and procurement, said: "This budget announces a higher than necessary council tax increase combined with continuing cuts in social care.

“Despite significant extra money from central government to help with social care demands, the conservative administration has only put back some of the cuts in social care.

Many of their improvements in spending are actually reinstatement of cuts they announced in November 2007.”

A better idea of council tax increases for Suffolk householders will emerge once borough or district, police authority and, in rural areas, parish council elements of the tax, have been added to the bill. These figures are likely to be announced over the next month.

Last year households in Ipswich were asked to pay about 4pc extra due to a county council increase of 4.5pc and a borough council increase of marginally under 3pc.

Is today's increase fair? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk