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Breckland councillor: 6.6 per cent council tax increase will have virtually no impact on the amount people pay

PUBLISHED: 15:23 23 February 2017 | UPDATED: 22:19 24 February 2017

Breckland Council. Picture: Ian Burt

Breckland Council. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2013

Taxpayers in Breckland still receive the cheapest rate of council tax in the county, according to district councillors - despite them voting for a 6.6 per cent increase.

The charge for a Band D property for next year will be £78.93, compared to £73.98 this year, which will mean a rise of about 9.5p per week.

However, the local authority, which serves Dereham, Swaffham, Thetford, Attleborough and Watton, insisted that with 77pc of the homes in the area in bands A-C, the majority would pay only about 8p a week more.

Recommendations to approve the budget and council tax at the full council meeting on Thursday, February 23 were carried with 33 councillors voting in favour, three against with one abstention. Labour’s Terry Jermy and Harry Clarke and UKIP’s John Newton voted against, and UKIP’s Jennifer Hollis abstained.

Pablo Dimoglou, Breckland Council’s executive member for finance, said: “The increase will have virtually no impact on the amount people pay.”

However, Terry Jermy, leader of the Labour group on the council, proposed a 12-week consultation to look at implementing a scheme to exempt the most vulnerable people from paying any council tax. The council currently offers a 91.5pc reduction in council tax for the most vulnerable.

He said it could mean the difference between people on benefits having enough money for food or not.

He said: “Council tax is a regressive tax which means it takes no account of people’s ability to pay. To provide 100pc support to the most vulnerable would just cost the council £15,743. This would be a small price to pay.”

But his amendment to the proposals was rejected by the Conservative-controlled council.

The Labour group also proposed allocating £31,360 from growth funds to employ a market towns co-ordinator for two years. Mr Jermy said market towns in the area were crucial, but added that shops in Thetford remained empty and some were just “getting by”. The amendment was turned down, but it will be discussed at a future cabinet meeting.

The council said the tax increase will help it meet its predicted funding shortfall.

Do you think the authority is right to increase its share of council tax by 6.6pc? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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