Taxing day for councillors

TODAY is D-day for county councillors being asked to approve an 18.5 per cent rise in council tax bills across the county.Suffolk County Council was debating the controversial rise at its full meeting which was due to carry on until the early evening.

TODAY is D-day for county councillors being asked to approve an 18.5 per cent rise in council tax bills across the county.

Suffolk County Council was debating the controversial rise at its full meeting which was due to carry on until the early evening.

And although some Liberal Democrat councillors are known to be unhappy about the increase, the ruling Labour-Lib Dem administration remained confident the rise would be approved.

The rise, one of the highest in the country, will then be passed to district councils across Suffolk and they will set the final council tax bills next week.


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Suffolk Police Authority has already decided to put up its element of council tax bills by more than 33 per cent.

District councils are putting up their bills by a much smaller percentage than the county, but because they represent such a small element of the total bill, they don't bring the total increase down much.

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The increases are now firmly being blamed on Westminster, which has changed the way it calculates its grants – switching money from apparently well-off areas in the south of England to more deprived areas in the north, Scotland and Wales.

Although the government grant was put up by more than the current rate of inflation, rule changes have made local councils responsible for more expenditure – especially in the area of social services.

For instance county councils are now having to find places for "bed-blockers" who would otherwise be cared for in hospital – at the expense of the NHS.

In Ipswich the total council tax bill faced by householders will go up by 18.2 per cent from April – although the borough's own element is going up by less than 12 per cent.

This means the overall bill for Band D council tax payers – the benchmark against which bills are calculated – will go up from £1,062.36 to £1,255.77.

In Babergh the total tax bill will go up by 18.4 per cent even though the district element is going up by less than 10 per cent.

This is because Babergh's element of the total council tax bill is less than 10 per cent.

In rural districts there is no uniform council tax rate – because parish and town councils also levy their own charge.

This can lead to wide variations across an individual district.

Great Wenham and Sudbury are both in Babergh district – but Band D council taxpayers in Wenham will pay £1,111.75 next year while in Sudbury they will pay £1,213.82.

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