£5 council tax increase for Breckland residents in 'exceptional budget'

Hundreds of households face being taken to court for failing to make council tax payments during the

Hundreds of households face being taken to court for failing to make council tax payments during the coronavirus outbreak, it has been revealed. Photo: PA - Credit: PA

A proposed council tax hike of 5.3pc will keep Breckland as the cheapest district in Norfolk.  

At a cabinet meeting on Monday, executive member for finance and growth, Philip Cowen, presented a report on the authority’s draft budget for 2021-22.

Eight recommendations were put forward in the draft budget including a council tax rise, setting aside £65,000 for a council tax hardship fund, and approval of full-time positions for digital staff. 

If the plans are approved at a council meeting later this month, Breckland District Council will increase its council tax to £98.73 per year for a Band D property - a £4.95 increase over the 2020-21 levels. 

Breckland Councillor Philip Cowen. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Breckland Councillor Philip Cowen. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE - Credit: Mark Bullimore/Mark Bullimore Ph

However, Cllr Cowen's report said most residents could expect a smaller rise.

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He said: "The pandemic has created some uncertainty in terms of levels of government funding, fees and charges income and investment returns we can expect, but we currently believe we can achieve all this without using core reserves if we increase annual council tax by £4.95 for a band D property, most people in the district will see a smaller rise as around 75pc of houses are bands A-C."

As part of a consultation, residents gave their thoughts on the budget with three people calling for the increase to be scrapped.

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Others suggestions included a Breckland food waste service, a council tax cut, and for more investment in local businesses.  

Breckland District Council

The budget proposals will now go before the full council on February 25 - Credit: Ian Burt

Speaking at the meeting, Mr Cowen said: "This is a proposed balanced budget for the next year and, as we have said many times before, it is a phenomenal achievement for any council to put forward a balanced budget against the backdrop the likes of which have never been experienced in this county in living memory. 

Mr Cowen put this down to the council's past performance and "prudent fiscal management." 

Praising his cabinet colleague, Mr Paul Hewett called it an "exceptional budget in exceptional times". 

He added: "These are exceptional times and yet we still manage to be best value for money of any district council in the country, we still are the lowest council tax in Norfolk, we still have a budget that allows our residents and businesses to thrive."  

The cabinet approved the proposed budget, which will now be put before the full council on February 25.

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