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Babergh District Council approves tax rise and council house rent increase in 2020/21 budget

Taxpayers in Babergh will pay on average an extra £5 per year from April, after the district council approved its annual budget for 2020/21.

The budget, which was green-lit at a full council meeting last week, will see this coming year’s council tax rise by 3.1 per cent – equivalent to an additional 10 pence a week, or £5 over the course of a year, for a typical band D property.

Increases will range from 6p per week for the smallest band A property to 19p per week for the largest band H property, but there will be no change to the council tax reduction scheme, which sees the district’s poorest residents pay only five per cent of their bill.

Babergh District Council, Endeavour House, Ipswich. (30857637)
Babergh District Council, Endeavour House, Ipswich. (30857637)

Council house rents will also go up by 2.7 per cent, meaning tenants will pay an extra £2.38 per week – although a council spokesman stated that rents remain below their rates in 2015/16 – due to reductions over the last four years – while sheltered housing tenants will see their bill rise by £2 a week.

The authority explained these increases are being brought in to address the changing financial landscape, including reductions to funding from central Government.

John Ward, Babergh District 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 residents of even a small increase of £5 over the whole year for a band D property.

“Similarly, we know that 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 also meet future social housing demand.

“Through prudent investment and management of our finances, we can continue to ensure that Babergh remains amongst the best places to live in the UK.”

Among the other provisions in the 2020/21 budget is an alteration to the empty property discount, reducing the period that unoccupied and unfurnished properties pay less in council tax from three months to 28 days, to bring empty properties in the district back into use.

In addition, long-stay car parking costs across Babergh will go up from £2 to £3, although short-stay parking for up to three hours at all town centre car parks will remain free of charge.

The council’s budget report claims that the authority has achieved savings and income of £17.4 million through shared services, efficiencies, better use of technology and commercial opportunities.

It expects to generate a further £2.6 million in savings and income for 2020/21 and beyond.

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