It’s the Council Tax rise lottery

What will your council tax bill be? PPP-150721-115146001
What will your council tax bill be? PPP-150721-115146001
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Whether your council tax is going up or staying the same has become a postcode lottery.

The biggest percentage increase locally is from Bury St Edmunds Town Council whose tax bill will rise by £9.90 a year after the town council approved a 73.3 per cent rise. The town council’s Band D tax rises from £13.50 to £23.40.

The town council confirmed its precept at a meeting last Wednesday, at which it also discussed changes to the way its budget is used, including having ‘grant pots’ to target needs and increasing its councillors’ locality budgets from £1,000 to £2,500.

But Diane Hind questioned the need to increase locality budgets, which the council only introduced last year.

Council chairman Andrew Speed said: “The idea is to produce specific funds for the challenges in your ward that other wards may not have.”

Rod Barrett argued it was better to have money available than to find projects ‘then take four years to find the money’.

The new budget also sees the town council using £30,000 of its reserves, which stand at £135,000 though £45,000 is committed to projects.

In addition, St Edmundsbury Borough Council is proposing its first increase in six years at 1.99 per cent, adding £3.49 to the £175.23 band D tax.

St Edmundsbury’s budget is considered by its cabinet next Tuesday and full council on February 23. As well as the tax increase, it plans spending cuts to clear a predicted budget gap of £1.9 million. If it asked for more than two per cent – for example, the six per cent to cover not charging for brown bin emptying –it would need a referendum.

However, Norfolk County Council can avoid that with its proposed 3.99 per cent because it includes a two per cent ‘social care levy’ which the chancellor has allowed, If approved by Norfolk’s Policy and Resources Committee on Monday it will be their first rise for five years and will add £45.72 a year to Band D tax.

Suffolk County Council announced two weeks ago that it plans to use the two per cent social care levy to raise its Band D tax by £22.50.

But Forest Heath residents get the good news that the district plans to freeze its council tax share for the seventh year running, if its cabinet agrees on Wednesday and the full council approves it on February 24.