Council taxpayers face five per cent rise from Suffolk as further cuts also loom

Suffolk County Council's Endeavour House headquarters. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN.

Suffolk County Council's Endeavour House headquarters. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN. - Credit: Archant

Suffolk is preparing to increase its element of council tax bills by nearly five per cent from April as the authority continues to wrestle with the effects of austerity.

It is set to put up basic council tax by the maximum allowed by government without triggering a local referendum – 1.99pc – while also increasing its social care precept by 3pc to allow it to pay more for people needing residential care.

It means that the occupants of a Band B home – the most numerous in Suffolk – will be paying an extra £46 to the county council next year. District/borough, parish(in most of Suffolk), and police figures are all added into the total council tax bill.

The rises will not prevent the county council from still needing to make savings of £27m during 2018/19. It plans to cut services by just under £24m and find the rest of the money needed by taking money out of reserves.

Cabinet member for finance Richard Smith said the increases were necessary because the level of government support to councils was continuing to fall.

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The government was expecting councils to increase what they charged – and most people he spoke to accepted the need to pay more.

But the rise is likely to be more than the rate of inflation, which currently stands at 3pc.

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The largest cuts are set to be in the Adult and Community Services department of the council which is the largest single element of its expenditure – that is expected to see a cut of £11m in its total budget which stood at £229m for the current year (although it is expected to overspend by nearly £2.5m).

This saving should come from efficiencies and changing the way care is given – not cuts to front-line services.

Mr Smith said: 'We are working with the NHS to try to enable more people to stay in their own homes or to return to their own homes after a hospital stay.

'The amount we are spending on this care is increasing – and the extra 3pc goes towards increasing the amount we spend on social care, especially ensuring staff receive the increased National Living Wage.'

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