Suffolk County Council freezes tax for third year

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Suffolk County Council has frozen its share of council tax for a third consecutive year.

County councillors debated the authority’s 2013/14 budget for two and a half hours yesterday afternoon, before making the decision which means Suffolk residents will not pay any more than they did in 2010/11 for county council services.

The county says that whilst delivering a third council tax freeze in as many years, the budget sees front line services protected as savings of £24.9 million are made, including.

Councillor Jane Storey, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for finance, said: “The savings that we have agreed are significant and will require continued firm management in 2013/14 and future years.

“Last year we made a commitment to focus savings on the back office to protect, as far as possible, the front line. This budget delivers on that commitment.

In February 2012, Suffolk County Council agreed a two year budget strategy which focused on meeting the budget gap in 2012/13 and 2013/14. The 2013/14 budget is the second year of that two year plan which focuses on delivering savings which should limit the need for service reductions.

To draw up its proposed budget, the county council conducted a series of reviews in 2012. The council’s Scrutiny Committee examined the proposed savings on 26 November 2012 and details of the savings were shared with stakeholders.

By cutting the number of senior managers, strictly managing vacancies and transferring services and staff to new or existing organisations, the council’s workforce headcount (excluding schools) is expected to almost halve from 10,456 in April 2010 to 5,613 by March 2013.

Suffolk County Council faces significant grant reductions as a result of the Government’s deficit reduction programme. To date the council has delivered £42.5 million of savings in 2011/12 and says it is on track to deliver £26.2 million in 2012/13.