'Balanced budget' is proposed for new West Suffolk Council
PUBLISHED: 07:30 08 February 2019
A budget that “invests in the future of our area” has been drawn up for west Suffolk, councillors have said.
A balanced budget has been proposed for the new West Suffolk Council, which will be created in April from St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council.
A spokesman said the new council would not only help maintain the millions of savings already made by the two authorities, but also drive forward income and investment generation.
Members of the West Suffolk Council Executive agreed unanimously on Tuesday, February 5, the two-year proposals should be recommended for approval and put in front of the West Suffolk Shadow Authority.
One of the recommendations backed included adopting a Suffolk-wide policy to help care leavers by awarding 100% council tax discount to west Suffolk residents aged 16-25 who were previously under the care of Suffolk County Council and who live alone. Care leavers will also be disregarded for council tax purposes if they live with a single occupier, meaning that person will not lose their 25% discount.
The Forest Heath area will see a council tax rise of just under 10p a week (£4.95 a year for a typical Band D property), but those in St Edmundsbury will not face a rise as new council attempts to harmonise charges over the next seven years.
Stephen Edwards, cabinet member for resources and performance for Forest Heath District Council and Ian Houlder, cabinet member for resources and performance for St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said: “This is a budget for the new West Suffolk Council that invests in the future of our area.
“It builds on the good work that both Forest Heath District and St Edmundsbury Borough Councils have delivered previously. The proposals being put forward sets a balanced budget for the next two years.
“Creating the new council not only helps cement that strong financial position but means the new authority will be in a better place to seize investment and income opportunities while being able to drive prosperity, jobs and the economy for our communities and businesses.
“It also means that we will be in a better position to face some of the financial challenges that councils across the UK are already facing.
“Therefore, the council will continue the policy of investing heavily in our families and communities work, supporting new businesses coming to West Suffolk while delivering high quality services.”
The spokeswoman said the councils have already been delivering pioneering work in west Suffolk in areas such as clean energy generation for businesses as well as the continued performance of the largest solar farm of its kind.