Council tax rise confirmed for Breckland after budget approved

Breckland Councillor Philip Cowen. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

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

Council tax bills are set to rise in Breckland after an increase was approved by councillors.

Breckland Council voted to raise its share of council tax by £4.95 per annum for residents in Band D properties at a meeting on Thursday, February 21, where the budget and council tax setting for 2019/20 were both approved.

However, 77pc of residents in Breckland live in properties which are not Band D, meaning they are unlikely to see as big of an increase.

The move to increase council tax again in the district came under criticism from some councillors, including leader of the Labour group, councillor Terry Jermy, who represents Thetford Burrell, who asked for a budget allocation to be introduced at a later date to assist disabled people of working age in paying all of their district share of the council tax.

He said: 'It wasn't that many years ago that this council prided itself on low council tax. While it is still relatively low, you cannot deny that it has gone up significantly of late.

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'When I speak to people on low incomes through case work and surgeries, people struggling with the bedroom tax or universal credit, or simply struggling to pay their bills because their wages are so low, increasingly they are mentioning council tax as one of their problem bills.

'As a council we protect pensioners by providing them with 100pc relief on their council tax, some 4,500 people, but those on low incomes including working age disabled residents are only supported to the maximum of 92pc.

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'£40,000 would mean that those individuals were supported up to 100pc with the Breckland share of the council tax. We can make a budget allocation when the time comes around which I propose we do.'

The proposal for the budget allocation was rejected by the council.

The approved budget also includes £1.5m allocated for a range of community initiatives to support local residents and businesses.

Phil Cowen, executive member for finance and delivery, said: 'I believe this budget is incredibly positive. We have achieved a budget going forward which is balanced and moreover, is providing us with reserves with which we can support our local communities.'

After the meeting, he added: 'Most of Breckland's residents will pay less than £90 a year for district council tax, but we spend the equivalent of around £500 per household on delivering services.'

Norfolk County Council has also announced it will be charging 3pc more in council tax for the next year, with £24 more a year also being added on Band D properties to fund the police service.

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