For the last 14 years the Tory government has been systematically defunding councils and putting the financial strain on local council taxpayers.

In 2010, when George Osborn introduced austerity, Ipswich Borough Council (IBC) received £11.9m in the Local Government Finance Settlement. In comparison, the 2024/25 settlement is £5.7m. If the 2010 figure had been raised

Many, if not all councils face financial challenges.  Nothing to do with management of councils locally and everything to do with the systematic defunding of local councils.

Why does that matter? Because services provided by local government are the ones that you value the most: our wonderful parks, Regent theatre and Corn Exchange, Christchurch Mansion, swimming pools, events and Ipswich Music Day.

We will continue to do our best to provide those services that matter the most to you. One area that came to attention recently is Arts funding, mainly because Tory-controlled Suffolk County Council (SCC) ended Arts funding worth £528,000 a year. Due to the public outcry, SCC found £500,000.

Labour-controlled IBC does not have to look down the back of the sofa to fund the Arts. IBC is currently funding £185,000 per year for the Ipswich-based Arts organisations: Dance East, Spill festival, Eastern Angles, Gecko and New Wolsey Theatre. This will continue.

For the next year, we will have a Council Tax increase of 2.98%, which equates to 17.6p or less per week for most Ipswich households. IBC will remain the lowest of the three elements which make up the Ipswich council tax bill. Less than the Tory Police and Crime Commissioner at 19.4p a week, and Tory SCC at 58p per week.

The key points are that IBC has been hit by significant cost increases outside of its control. These include a significant increase in demand for our services, inflation, economic uncertainty, and interest rates.

The additional money the Council has received from the Government hasn’t been anywhere enough to cover those higher costs. The additional money from council tax won’t cover the gap either. IBC has made large savings but still has a significant savings programme to deliver in future.

I’d like to highlight that the ongoing discount scheme for residents claiming Local Council Tax Reduction (LCTR) will see over 7,000 customers benefit from lower or frozen council tax bills.

Here’s a few things we did with the money. Last year we completed new play areas at Holywell’s Park and Newbury Road, retained Green Flags for Bourne, Christchurch and Holywell’s Parks and continued to provide a free summer holiday i-card for children and young people.

Completed the transformation of St Stephen’s Church into a music venue, supported the “Brighten the corners” music festival, built an extension to the Regent Theatre to provide better facilities for performers and secured Loungers as a new operator on Ipswich Waterfront.

Welcomed over 100,000 visitors to the programme of events in the town centre including the Coronation screening, Windrush, Suffolk day, Ipswich music weekend and Ipswich weekenders.

Council housing had their 500th set of solar panels fitted, over 500 of the most efficient boilers were installed and a record 20,000 repairs were completed.

My favourite: started construction of 302 new council homes.

The Council’s Corporate Strategy “Proud of Ipswich” includes the priority to be a financially sustainable Council.  We are proud that we are financially sustainable this year and are determined to be financially sustainable in future.

 

 

 

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