Council must save further £5.4m

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Latest news from the Suffolk Free Press,, @sfpsudbury on Twitter

A district council will need to find savings of £5.4million over the next four years to make ends meet.

But Babergh District Council, which is to meet today to discuss draft budget proposals, is expected to agree to freeze council tax once again.

In a report, Barry Hunter, corporate finance manager, said: “Current forecasts are that we will need to save, generate income, or produce a return on investments of around £5.4million over the next four years.”

He said the decision to share staff and merge services with Mid Suffolk District Council, including the appointment of a single chief executive, had helped.

Council leader Jennie Jenkins said the authority is considering two options for increasing the rent paid by its 3,500 council house tenants in order to use the extra revenue to increase the number of homes available.

She said: “We are, regrettably, presented with a situation that means, to a greater or lesser extent, we need to put rents up in order to resource future housing opportunities.

“We have been liaising with the tenants’ forum in working up these options, and I believe these representatives are broadly supportive in us using the additional revenues from rents to widen the housing choices for our communities in the future.”

Councillors will also discuss a proposal to install solar panels on council houses costing £4.5million.

But Mr Hunter said: “This will only proceed if the outline business case produces an acceptable return in terms of cost and benefit.”

The budget will be ratified by the full council at the end of February.