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Breckland 'still Norfolk's cheapest district', despite planned 5.3 per cent council tax hike

A proposed council tax hike of 5.3 per cent will still keep Breckland as the cheapest district in Norfolk, its administration said this week.

At a cabinet meeting on Monday, executive member for finance and growth, Philip Cowen, presented 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.

Breckland Council logo. (43583611)
Breckland Council logo. (43583611)

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 from 2020-21.

However, Mr Cowen’s report said most residents could expect a smaller rise.

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.

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

Mr Cowen said: “This is a proposed balanced budget for the next year and, as we have said many times, 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.”

Paul Hewett said: “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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