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Diss Town Council tax rise of 15.3pc could help pay for staff salary increase

PUBLISHED: 19:20 02 January 2018 | UPDATED: 19:20 02 January 2018

Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

A 15.3pc proposed rise in a town’s share of its council tax could partly be used to help pay for an increase in staff salaries, it has emerged.

Diss Mere. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY Diss Mere. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

However Diss Town Council has defended the proposal, saying the possible staff pay rise of between 2pc and 5pc was in line with national guidelines and that the authority provides facilities and services that make the 50p per week extra charge worthwhile.

An extraordinary town council meeting on Wednesday, January 3 is set to discuss what it describes as a “challenging budget” for the forthcoming financial year.

There will be a 49pc reduction in its revenue support grant from South Norfolk Council, from £19,728 to £10,713.

It must also find £22,000 for loan repayments but the report said: “There will also be a requirement to increase the wages budget by £32,940 to cover previous under-budgeting, salary increases of 2pc plus incremental increases through the salary scale range and pension contribution and National Insurance increases.”

It has therefore proposed to increase its share of the council tax by 15.3pc for an average Band D property, from £163.92 to £189.03 per year.

Diss town mayor Trevor Wenman stressed no decisions had been made at this stage and that the issue would be fully debated at the meeting.

But he said: “15.3pc sounds horrible but you’ve got to look at what that means in the real world. That’s £25 a year or 50p a week.

“The things the town council do are there for people to see.

“We’re responsible for running a variety of community facilities, from the park to Diss sports centre.

“These are things that are available to people of Diss to enjoy and make life more pleasant for everyone.

“Diss would be a poorer place without them.”

He said larger district and county councils are in a similar position but said that, unlike larger organisations, the fact Diss Town Council only employs a handful of staff means it cannot save costs through natural wastage.

Of the potential staff pay rise - which he said could be as much as 5pc for some staff - Mr Wenman said: “It’s part of a national pay agreement.”

He also argued there are “not many perks to being in local government”.

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