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Babergh District Council budget proposals include Council Tax and rent increases

The first draft of Babergh District Council’s budget for 2020/21 is set to be considered by councillors next week, including an increase in Council Tax that would see £5 a year added to the bill of a Band D Property.

The budget will be considered by Babergh cabinet members on January 16 and by overview and scrutiny on January 20. It will then go to full council in February and, if approved, come into effect on April 1.

Proposals include:

  • An increase of three per cent to Council Tax – equivalent to 10p a week or £5 over the course of a year for a Band D property (increases range from £3.33 per annum for Band A to £10 for Band H).
Cllr John Ward is elected as new Babergh District Council leader. (26255260)
Cllr John Ward is elected as new Babergh District Council leader. (26255260)
  • No change in the Council Tax reduction scheme that sees poorest residents pay five per cent of their bill.
  • A change to empty property discount, reducing the period unoccupied and unfurnished properties pay discounted Council Tax from three months to 28 days, in order to bring empty properties in the district back into use.
  • Continued investment in CIFCO – the council’s property investment company, as agreed in last year’s budget. CIFCO currently contributes more than £1.4 million a year in income to Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils.
  • An increase in long-stay car parking charges from £2 to £3. However, short-stay parking for up to three hours will remain free at many town centre car parks.
  • After four years of reductions, the council is also proposing putting up council house rents by 2.7 per cent, meaning a £2.19 per week increase for tenants – although, even with this increase, rents are still lower than in 2015/6. Sheltered housing tenants also face an increase of £2 a week on their bills, but their utility payments remain static for another year.

The budget report also recognises the cumulative savings/income of £30.9 million achieved by the Council since 2011/12, through shared services, efficiencies, better use of technology and commercial opportunities – with a further £2.7 million in savings/income identified for 2020/1 and beyond.

Cllr John Ward, council leader and cabinet member for finance, said: “We do not take the decision to increase Council Tax lightly and understand the impact on our Babergh residents of even a small increase of £5 over the whole year for a Band D property.

"Similarly we know our council tenants will not welcome an increase in rent, but this is necessary so that we can maintain homes to the standard they expect and meet future social housing demand.

“By taking these difficult decisions we can propose a 2020/21 budget which, despite the financial challenges we face, protects and enhances our services to residents. Through prudent investment and management of our finances we can continue to ensure that Babergh remains among the best places to live in the UK.”

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