Council Budget 2020

»

Council Budget 2020

A consultation on the Council's budget, including Council Tax proposals, from 3 December 2019 to 31 January 2020.

Have your say on our budget for 2020/21.

Background

In setting the budget and Council Tax for the year ahead, councils are required by law to undertake public consultation. 

Local government finances can be complicated and are informed by several different funding streams.   In recent years, the Government have begun to remove the grants it gave to local authorities.  It expected them to make up the difference or reduce the cost of their services. 

How has this affected Rother District Council

The loss of government funding and escalating costs means we must find £3.2 million of extra income and savings in order to balance our budget. 

Despite the financial challenges, we have real ambitions for the area.  Recently, our Cabinet have made two important commitments:

   >  To accelerate the delivery of new housing in the district by building 1,000 new homes over the next 15 years.
       These will be a mix of homes for sale, part owned/rented and for affordable rents.

   >  To deliver a carbon neutral district by 2030 after having declared a climate emergency at our meeting on 16 September 2019.  
       
We are planning how to achieve these commitments whilst ensuring, as a district council, that we live within our means.

Why have our costs gone up so much?

  • Globally costs have risen in the waste and recycling industry. This has affected our new waste collection and street cleaning contract which is going to cost around £2m more than was forecast.

  • The number of homeless people and families in our district coming to the Council for help has risen substantially. This means we are spending more on providing emergency and temporary homes.

  • We are having to use our savings to protect services which means we have invested less and this has affected the income we would expect to receive from investments.

  • We have been unable to increase Council Tax in line with our costs.

You can read more detail on costs and plans

Cabinet agenda for 13 January 2020 - Draft Revenue Budget report - https://rother.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=153&MId=181&Ver=4

in the Overview and Scrutiny committee report on the Medium Term Financial Strategy at its meeting on 25 November 2019 that is found here - https://rother.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=154&MId=161&Ver=4

Also on the Cabinet agenda for 2 December 2019 https://rother.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=153&MId=179&Ver=4

What are we doing about this?

Since 2015 we have been changing the way we work to make it more efficient and more cost effective and as a result we have made savings or raised income to the value of £1.8 million. We did this by:

  • Increased our income from commercial properties by £673,000 in 2019, so we know this works.

  • Streamlined our processes and introduced new systems that allow us to work quicker and more efficiently.

  • Reduced lower priority, non-essential services or found other organisations to provide them, which created savings.

But we need to do more. To meet our savings target for the next financial year we will:

  • Introduce charges for some discretionary services we provide.

  • Increase our income through our property investment strategy.   We forecast an increase by £454,000 in 2020.

  • Continue to streamline our processes and update systems.  We will find efficiency savings of £90,000 in 2020 and a further £90,000 in 2021.

  • Continue to reduce low priority or non-essential services or finding other organisations to provide them.  This could see savings of £100,000 in 2020 and another £150,000 in 2021.

  • Look at sharing services with other authorities as we successfully do now for Environmental Health, Building Control and Legal Services. We will look at devolving or transferring services to other organisations. These could help us reduce our staffing structure and we aim to save £500,000 a year.

  • Raise our share of the Council Tax by 2% (£3.59) or possibly £5 a year (based on a Band D property) if the Government allow us to.

Even with these plans we will not close our funding gap.  We will need to use around £2million from our reserves (savings) to help fill the gap between our income and our expenditure, while we continue to make more savings and raise our income over the following years.  This will help us gradually reduce the amount we need to take from our reserves to balance the budget.

Council Tax

This consultation is limited to the part of the Council Tax that is kept by Rother District Council, about 10% of your bill.  Although you pay your bill to Rother District Council, most of what you pay goes to East Sussex County Council, the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service and your parish or town council if you live outside Bexhill-on-Sea.

If the Government allows District Councils to raise their Council tax by £5 for a Band D property, this means a resident in a Band D property would pay £184.45 for the whole year to Rother District Council, compared to £179.45 at present. This will give us an additional £191,000 each year in income which help towards the £3.2m target.

If your home is in a different Council Tax band to Band D, the table below shows what you will pay if not in receipt of a Council Tax reduction.

Proposed increases for each Property Band
Council Tax ChangesABCDEFGH

Increase on 2019/20

£3.33£3.89£4.44£5£6.11£7.22£8.33£10

Proposed Council Tax for Rother District Council (Total)

£122.97£143.46£163.96£184.45£225.44£266.43£307.42£368.90

If we wanted to raise the Council Tax by more than 2% (or £5) we would have to hold a local referendum to raise the Council Tax. Recognising the impact on household finances, the Council has not previously supported increasing the Council Tax above the referendum limit.  In addition, to hold a referendum across the District would cost around £80,000.   So, for next year, we are not proposing this.

We want to hear your views how much we should raise council tax by, if at all, and also which services you value most. To help understand how you feel about this we have asked some specific questions in our online response form.

What Does Rother District Council Do

Here are the main services your district council provides.  Some of these services Rother District Council must provide because there are laws saying it is our responsibility.  This is called statutory.  Some services the Council provides are not required by law.  We do these to help maintain or improve the quality of life for people living and working in the district. These services are called discretionary.  One proposal to balance our budget is to find savings by looking at the options for future service delivery (below).  We don't have a list of which service we will investigate yet.  We would like to hear what others have to say first, before short listing.

Types of statutory services:

> Waste and recycling collection from your home
> Street cleaning, litter bins and dog bins
> Planning services, including development management (planning permission) and our Local Plan, local land charge searches, tree preservation orders, conservation areas and design standards
> Environmental health services including food safety, health and safety, reducing pollution (contaminated land, noise, etc.) and licensing (for example taxis, licensed premises, gambling, charity collections)
> Helping the homeless and those at risk of homelessness, housing register for social housing
> Tackling crime and anti-social behaviour
> Tackling environmental crime such as fly tipping, littering and graffiti
> Paying housing benefit and a Council Tax reduction for very low income households.

Some of the discretionary services we provide include:

> Small, neighbourhood recycling sites such as at supermarkets
> Providing some green spaces, parks and playgrounds
> Leisure centres and swimming pools
> Public toilets
> Supporting tourism, jobs, economic development and regeneration
> Supporting leisure, arts, sports, health and cultural activities, events and venues, including local museums
> Providing car parks
> Advice, guidance and access to our service on our website, weekly emailed updates from My Alerts and our Facebook page and other social media

Our current budgets for our services

If you want to see the budgets for 2019/20 please here to Budgets and accounts for the 2019 Budget Book.

Options

We are considering some options that could bring savings for delivery of our services.  We plan to save at least £100,000 in 2020 and £150,000 in 2021.  As well as saving £500,000 in staff costs.  We plan to find different delivery options for some of the services listed above. There will be more savings in following years.  No change is not an option because we have to make savings.  Reducing costs to the Council will help protect other essential services. 

We have NOT decided on which options to look into and for which services. 

We want to hear what you say first, before deciding which options and which services to address.  A section on the options is in our online questionnaire (see below).

How to Take Part in this Consultation

If you have any questions about this consultation please email consultations@rother.gov.uk

Organisations may respond by email using consultations@rother.gov.uk   We welcome comments on how their organisation might be affected by our proposals to balance our budget for 2020. Also, we would like comments on our Medium Term Financial Plan and a response to the options for future service delivery.  The options are: stop the service; reduce the service; devolve the service; a shared service partnership.

Take part here - https://surveymechanics.com/s/Budget2020

You can collect a printed copy of the questionnaire on request from our community help points in the Almonry in Battle, the library in Rye and at Bexhill Town Hall and return it to that office or post it to the Council at:


Budget Consultation 2020
Rother District Council
Town Hall
Bexhill on Sea
TN39 3JX

 

 

 

Powered by GOSS iCM