Suffolk’s cabinet backs its seventh council tax freeze

Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich
Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich
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A freeze in council tax while increasing the Adult Social Care Precept was approved by Suffolk County Council’s cabinet on Tuesday.

The the county’s opposition Labour group says the proposals mean ‘short term cuts, long term problems’.

While freezing council tax for the seventh year, the county proposes £31.3 million cuts across services, on top of the £34 million already saved.

But the approved budget plan also sees the Adult Social Care Precept, currently set at two per cent of council tax rise to three per cent in 2017/18 and 2018/19.

There is a budget gap of £39.8m in the next financial year, and on top of the proposed savings, the council plans to use about £8.5 million from its £49 million reserves.

Before the cabinet meeting, Richard Smith, cabinet member for finance and heritage, said: “We are using money from our reserves to cover this increase in costs. This situation demonstrates exactly why we have maintained our reserves at a prudent level.

“Despite ever-increasing financial pressures, we remain absolutely committed to providing services to the most vulnerable people in our communities.”

He said a £6 million overspend this year was mainly due to the increasing cost of supporting vulnerable young people.

But Labour’s finance spokesman Len Jacklin blamed the increase on cuts in services that helped avoid children going into care.

He added: “I will always oppose short sighted financial planning that fails to meet our needs and costs us more in the long run. That is what this Budget offers us – short term cuts, long term problems.”

The budget goes to full council on February 9.