Last week I wrote about how Government cuts could see Ipswich Borough Council lose £6m over the next four years.
If council tax were to be increased to cover the shortfall it would need a raise of 14%. Clearly this would be unacceptable so, if we want to protect services such as free brown bins and children’s summer iCards, the Council needs to look at ways of saving money and increasing income.
We will be looking to make more money from the council’s wholly-owned companies, such as Ipswich Borough Assets, the company we created to invest in commercial property. Currently this is bringing in around £2.5million each year. Without IBA we would already have had to make big cuts in services.
Under the new parking arrangements in the rest of Suffolk, Ipswich will be undertaking work for Babergh and Mid Suffolk. This should generate a surplus which we can use to continue supporting bus services.
We will look to make reductions in the amount of money available to the council’s Area Committees and the annual community grants programme, while maintaining all 3-year funding deals for organisations such as Citizens Advice.
We will need to reduce by one the number of times grass verges are cut each year in response to a reduction in funding by Suffolk County Council.
There will also be a voluntary redundancy programme to reduce staffing costs.
These sorts of measures mean we can keep Ipswich’s increase in council tax to the
Government guideline figure of 1.99% or 11p a week for the average Band B household.
For people on the lowest incomes this equates to an increase of just ½p a week
In contrast, Conservative-run Suffolk County Council and the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner – despite receiving more money from the Government, not less – will both be raising council tax higher than Ipswich.
The Police element will increase by 15p a week and County’s by 77p a week – seven times that of Ipswich Borough Council, while still cutting funding to Citizens Advice and axing bus services.
Labour’s sound management of the council’s finances means that we pay less and get more in Ipswich.