The recent Centre for Cities study confirms what we all knew – that areas like Ipswich have been hit hardest by Government funding cuts, writes Leader of Ipswich Borough Council, David Ellesmere.

Ipswich Borough Council now receives around £8m less each year in real terms than it did in 2010.

This is the context in which councils across the country are deciding their budgets for the year ahead.

David Ellesmere, Ipswich Borough Council Leader
David Ellesmere, Ipswich Borough Council Leader

Not all of them are going about it in the same way though.

Conservative councils spent years trying to court votes by freezing council tax. At a time when Government funding was being cut and inflation and demand were rising, this was economic madness.

They are now reaping the whirlwind. Councils like Suffolk County Council are having to hike council tax at a faster rate, wiping out any benefit of previous freezes.

This year the weekly council tax increase for an average Ipswich property will be 16p from Labour-run Ipswich Borough Council, 36p from the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner and a whopping 74p from Conservative-run Suffolk County Council.

That is only half the story. Ipswich Borough Council is keeping council tax down while protecting and improving frontline services. Suffolk County Council is not only jacking up council tax further and faster, it is also cutting services at the same time.

Labour’s budget for Ipswich will not result in any cuts to services over the coming year. We can keep brown bins free of charge. Bus services that were threatened will remain protected. Grants to charities and community groups will not be cut.

Next week I will detail some of the services we will be improving.

What a contrast to Conservative-run Suffolk. £2m will be cut from services for people with learning disabilities and autism. £8m from adult social care. Funding to Suffolk’s Citizens’ Advice Bureaux will be axed completely in two years. Rural bus services will see further cuts. Street lights will be turned off for even longer. Grass verges will be cut less often. Road signs won’t be cleaned and road markings won’t be renewed when worn out.

The message is clear. With Labour councils you pay less and get more. With Tory councils you pay more and get less.

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