East Suffolk council tax bill set to rise

East Suffolk Council are planning a council tax rise of almost £5 per year for 2022

East Suffolk Council is planning a council tax rise of almost £5 per year for 2022. Lowestoft from above. Inset, below, council leader Steve Gallant, above, Caroline Topping - Credit: Mike Page/East Suffolk Council

Taxpayers in east Suffolk are set to pay almost £5 a year extra in council tax under new proposals.

East Suffolk Council has published its budget proposals, opting for a 2.89pc increase for 2022 after freezing council tax levels during Covid-19 last year.

It equates to £4.95 for a Band D property, and will be added to the county council, policing and parish or town council elements of the council tax bill. The addition will make a total council tax bill rise in the region of £55-57 on last year’s for Band D homes.

The council will make a final decision on February 23.

Speaking at this week’s cabinet meeting, Conservative council leader Steve Gallant said: “We live in a world of uncertainty. As much as it pains anyone to put up any sort of tax, the reality of that is that we do need to protect our ambitions and the services that we provide to the residents.”

The cabinet said it recognised people were facing cost of living pressures but pointed out the council tax rise was below the rate of inflation and meant cost increases were also hitting the council.

Caroline Topping, leader of the Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent opposition group, said: “The GLI group will not be voting against this budget, and we are glad that last year’s mistake of freezing council tax has not been repeated.

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“The small raise in council tax that the GLI group recommended last year – £5 total per Band D household or £4 total per Band B household with those on benefits receiving relief – would have been worth £300,000 to frontline services and support for our residents, and that is funding we will now miss out on every year.

“If the Conservatives hadn’t frozen council tax last year we wouldn’t have lost that £300,000 for frontline services and support for our residents, and the increase they are now implementing this year could have been smaller, when our residents are suffering even more hardship and are in even more desperate need of relief.”

The Conservative administration said it has achieved a balanced budget for the next two years with a mix of additional income, savings and the use of some reserves.

In addition to the day-to-day running of council services, the council has confirmed £49m will be invested in assets, services and infrastructure in its capital budget plans.

Among the projects are flood defence works in Thorpeness, £5.75m for the south seafront and Martello Cafe in Felixstowe, £6.4m for start-up business units in Lowestoft and upgrades to Southwold Harbour and caravan park.

Maurice Cook, Conservative cabinet member for resources, said: “The council tax payer is at the heart of all financial decisions, and so many of the projects not only provide new or improved facilities but also develop more assets and income streams for the council in order that the reliance on council tax for providing vital services can be minimised.”