Mid Suffolk reveals draft budget to deliver new vision

Proposed council tax rise of 2% in district's share of bill would be an extra 7p a week

Tackling climate change and ensuring social justice are at the heart of Mid Suffolk’s District Council’s budget proposals - while limiting council tax increases for residents, the council’s leader has pledged.

A report for Mid Suffolk’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Monday 22 January shows the cost of providing its services to residents and communities is expected to rise by £3.3m to £15.75m in the next financial year – a 27% increase.

This is mainly due to inflationary pressures, particularly interest rates and salary costs, while there has also been a reduction in planning fees as potential development continues to stall in the national climate.

Mid Suffolk District Council leader Cllr Andy Mellen said the proposed budget addresses the challenging financial outlook but also allows delivery of the new administration’s plans.

He said: “Since being elected in May, the Green administration has developed a new vision for our district which puts environmental sustainability and social justice at the heart of everything we do. This budget will help us achieve that.

“At the same time, we recognise the impact of the cost-of-living crisis for residents, which is why we propose to limit any increase to our element of council tax bills to 2% - about 7p a week.”

In making its provisional local government financial settlement at the end of last year, the Government based its forecasts on the assumption that all authorities will raise their council tax by the maximum 2.99% permitted.

A 2% rise would mean Mid Suffolk’s proportion of the council tax bill for a Band D property, which is currently £171.59, would increase by £3.43 – around 7p a week. 

The district’s share is less than 10% of the total bill, with the remainder going to Suffolk County Council, the Police and Crime Commissioner and town or parish councils.

Cllr Rachel Eburne, deputy leader and cabinet member for finance and resources, said: “This is a prudent budget to help safeguard finances for the challenges we face, so we can continue to deliver our core services well, support our residents and communities.

“But we remain ambitious. We want to see Mid Suffolk thriving. Not just economically – though that’s important - but also culturally, socially and environmentally.”

The report notes the council has already been working on efficiencies and savings. There will be additional income from fees and charges, with the cost of garden waste collections rising from £59 to £62 a year for renewals.

Meanwhile, under the proposals, council tenants would also see a 7.7% increase in rents to try to keep pace with increased costs, and to ensure the necessary investment in repairs and maintenance across the council’s social housing stock.

This would mean an average weekly social rent increasing by £7.35 a week from £95.46 to £102.81. For affordable housing, weekly rents would increase by £10.65 from £138.33 to £148.98.

Cllr Eburne added: “We know the cost-of-living crisis continues to impact many people. Unfortunately, we have had no option but to increase rent to ensure we have the funds to maintain our tenants’ homes to a good standard, but we will continue to support those most in need.”

Mid Suffolk District Council continues to provide advice and support to those struggling to pay their bills, with a council tax reduction of up to 100% for residents with the lowest incomes.

The draft proposals go before Mid Suffolk Overview and Scrutiny committee on Monday 22 January, ahead of Mid Suffolk Cabinet on 6 February.  

Following Cabinet, the proposed budget will go before Full Council on 22 February.  Any changes to council tax or rents would then take affect from 1 April. 

Pictured: Cllr Andy Mellen and Cllr Rachel Eburne

Cllr Andrew Mellen and Cllr Rachel Eburne