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Babergh District Council's cabinet approves increases in tax bill and council house rents

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A 3 per cent council tax rise and a 2.7 per cent rise in council house rents have been backed by Babergh District Council’s cabinet.

The council’s cabinet on Thursday agreed the first draft of the budget, which must now go to full council next month.

It proposes that the council will up its portion of the council tax bill by 3 per cent – the highest allowable without a referendum – which equates to an additional £5 per year for a Band D property.

Babergh District Council, Endeavour House (27516916)
Babergh District Council, Endeavour House (27516916)

Suffolk County Council has already announced plans for a 4 per cent council tax rise from April for its portion – roughly £40 a year extra.

The cabinet also agreed to a 2.7 per cent rise in council house rent, which is also the maximum allowed by government.

But council officers said following four years of rent decreases the amount homes will pay is still below what it was in 2016.

The move means it is an additional £2.38 average increase in council house rent.

John Ward, Conservative council leader, said: “We must continue with our efforts to become self sufficient by maximising our income streams, continuing to make efficiencies and productivity savings and also continue to find new ways of working.

“Core to our finances is the need to have a strong council tax base and from the perspective of the four-year plan the numbers do still show a compelling case for the need for council tax increases each year.

“This will ensure we can offset the ongoing cost pressures that we face.”

According to Mr Ward, the authority has made savings of more than £17million since 2011 through investments, shared services and efficiencies, but still faces a cost pressure of around £2.6m going forward.

David Busby, Liberal Democrat councillor and cabinet member for assets and investment, said: “It’s good to have some positive figures rather than always having to have savings.

“The only concern I have is for the future and I do think the way we have done things in the past won’t be relevant for the future in many ways.

“We have got to look at some of the services we provide or don’t provide that perhaps we should do – maybe bus services to villages.

“I think there is demand from the community that we are not necessarily aware of that we are going to need to do something about.”