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Breckland Council tax increase plan backed

Dereham, Norfolk. Breckland Councillor Philip Cowen. ''Picture: MARK BULLIMORE
Dereham, Norfolk. Breckland Councillor Philip Cowen. ''Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Tax bills in the Swaffham area will remain among the lowest in the country despite a proposed increase, council leaders have claimed.

Plans to raise Breckland Council’s share of the charge by almost £5 for an average home were approved by the authority’s cabinet today.

And they say the reality of falling central government support meant they had no choice but to back a rise.

Philip Cowen, the authority’s executive member for finance, said: “Like many councils, we have been affected by central government cuts to public sector funding, which means we have to think carefully about how we balance our budget going forward and what we want to be able to do in the future.

“We will always do what we can to keep the financial burden off local residents but freezing council tax is not an option, particularly if we want to continue delivering the services that our residents expect and to maintain our commitment to the district’s growth and prosperity.”

Although the measure will still need to be ratified by the full council later this month, the authority’s charge is likely to increase by £4.95 this year to £83.88 for a typical band D home.

However, officials say more than three-quarters of residents will see lower rises, as they live in properties in the lower A, B or C bands.

And they say they still expect the district’s charge to be the lowest in England.

Mr Cowen said: “We are working hard to deliver good services for residents while keeping them affordable.

“Our services cost households less than a cup of coffee per week.

“We’ve avoided making cuts to frontline services through sensible financial planning and by making our services and back-office teams more efficient.

“Our commercially-minded approach is proving successful, with the council generating around as much money from our existing investments as we receive from local council tax.

“The savings and new income we have delivered to date have seen us save £1.5 million since April 2016 and we expect to save more than another £1 million before April 2019.”


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