Budget and Council Tax Consultation 2015

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Budget and Council Tax Consultation 2015

Consultation on the Council tax and budget for 2015. Open for comments: 28 January - 20 February 2015. CLOSED but updates reported here.

Consultation Results

The Council voted to adopt the budget and freeze the level of Council Tax at their meeting Monday, 23 February 2015.  Read the Council agenda and minutes for 23 February 2015

The Councillors had a printed copy of the full comments and results.  An interim report was sent out with the meeting agenda.  A full report was submitted on the evening and copies of all comments received up to that morning were available before the meeting.

Full comments are on the attached report - pdf icon Budget consultation returns 2015 [211kb]

After the consultation deadline we continued to receive a few more submissions.  However, it did not change the final result.

By 24 March 2015, 358 residents had sent in comments on the draft budget and gave their preference on raising or freezing Council Tax for 2015/16.

This was an 18% rise on participation from last year.

47% of respondents wanted to see a raise in the Council Tax.

46% of respondents wanted to see a freeze to the Council Tax and that the Council should take the Government Grant for 1%.

The remaining respondents wanted another option.

Early responses showed more support for raising the Council Tax.  However, once the responses went over 250 the result stabilised to be more evenly divided and did not change at all over 300 replies. Replies received after the closing date have not changed the results reported to full Council.

Next Phase

Comments directly about services have been analysed and sorted for further reporting to Members.  The Council's budgeting process starts again in the summer and the comments will be used to help Members make decisions and set priorities. 

If you want to take part in consultations and next year's budget consultation - join Rother Citizens Panel or join us on Twitter @rdcconsult

 

Decisions are due to be made on the 2015/16 budget for Rother District Council.

We would welcome your views. 

Should we freeze Council Tax next financial year or raise it by £3.22 a year?

UPDATES: 20 February 2015

Update 13 February 2015

UPDATE: 6 February 2015

Council Tax is over half the income the Council gets to provide services.  Government grant is just under half.

It wasn't always the case.  The Government grant used to be 60%. The Government grant has been cut.

Rother District Council hasn't put up its part of the Council Tax bill since 2010.

There is a gap. The Council must provide some services under legislation. The Council has already saved of £3.8m. The Council must cuts its costs for another four years, as a consequence of cuts in Government funding.  It is certain the Council will look very different over the next few years.

The choice before us for the next financial year is either a 0% increase or a near 2% increase to the Council Tax.  (The Government caps all rises at 2%.)

The Council's current thinking is to support a continued freeze to Council Tax next year, in recognition that many residents in Rother are on fixed or low incomes.

Email:  consultations@rother.gov.uk    or complete our online form at -  DELETED BECAUSE SURVEY CLOSED.   We highly recommend reading our background information, summarised below, or in full in this pdf document pdf icon Budget and Council Tax Consultation 2015 [128kb] before giving us your answer.

The Council's budget and other useful information to help you decide

The following gives you background to the Council's overall budget and other useful information to consider when coming to your view on the amount of Council tax.

The draft revenue budget for the Council for 2015/16 is £11.9 million.  Read the Draft Budget on the Cabinet Agenda

We have to deliver some services

The Council will continue to deliver the services it must deliver by law (statutory services). How we deliver them may change but we will continue to provide:

  • refuse collection
  • street cleaning
  • planning services
  • environmental health services, including food safety inspections and licensing
  • helping the homeless
  • providing housing benefit and council tax reduction

We choose to deliver some services

But the Council will continue to look closely at the services it can choose to deliver (discretionary services). This includes:

  • parks and gardens, woodlands and green open spaces
  • leisure centres and swimming pools
  • public conveniences
  • supporting tourism and regeneration
  • supporting leisure, arts, sports and culture, including museums
  • giving community grants
  • car parks

All of these and other services will remain under the closest scrutiny. The Council needs to enable greater levels of community involvement, self-help and user charging for non-essential services if these are to continue in the longer term.

Government grant gets smaller

The general grant from the Government to run Council services will be reduced by nearly £700,000 in 2015/16.  In total, the Council's general grant has fallen by £4m (60%) since 2010.  Some of this reduction has been offset by additional, temporary grant funding, which has been used in part to support the revenue budget.

Half of our income will come from Council Tax

The following chart shows how the £11.9m is paid for. Council Tax income now accounts for 52% of our income, with the Government's contribution falling to 48%. In the past, the Government's contribution was as high as 65%.

To manage the cuts in funding the Council has achieved savings of £3.8m so far and it is expected that a further £3m to £4m will be required over the next four years.

How the Council has made Savings

We have done this by:

  • Cutting 27% of the staff
  • A staff pay freeze for last 3 years and this year increasing pay by only 1%.
  • Closing one of our three main office buildings and letting spare space to partners in the other buildings.
  • Investment in technology and our website to enable people to help themselves.
  • New ways of working to reduce office space: flexible hours, working from home and 'agile' working spaces for staff who spend a lot of time out in the district.
  • Running our services by joint working with other district councils
  • Moving our services to other organisations in the community, such as allotments
  • New partnerships to save on our big contracts to supply public services:

But to get even more savings will prove a challenge. There is less now that we can change. At the same time, during a recession there is more call for Council services rather than less. We have seen a rise in demand for benefits and housing services.

Rother District Council keeps just 10% of your total Council Tax bill

Our budget for 2014/15 resulted in a council tax for Rother District Council of £161.19 for the whole year for a Band D household.  This is approximately 10% of the overall Council Tax bill (excluding any Parish/Town Council charge) that you receive.

Read more here on how Council Tax is made up for each organisation

The Council's Choice

Freeze Council Tax and take the Government grant for 1%?

For 2015/16 the Government will give councils a grant that was for the same amount as if they had put up their council tax by 1% (£73,000).

The Government have promised to keep paying this grant into the future if we freeze Council Tax this coming financial year.

Raise Council Tax by £3.22 a year?

The alternative is to refuse the Government's offer and raise Rother's council tax level by just below 2%.

In real terms, this means Rother's element of the total council tax bill would increase by £3.22 for the year the maximum increase permitted without going out to a referendum. This is 27 pence a month. This calculation is based on a Band D property. Properties banded A to C will pay less. Properties banded E and F will pay more.

By doing so, this guarantees building in nearly £115,000 of income into the budget.

In the longer term, by increasing Council Tax, the Council reduces its reliance on Government funding, and therefore helps us manage the decline in our general grant.

The Debate

In basic terms, the debate is whether or not to increase Council Tax this year. Services continue to be delivered efficiently and satisfactorily.

But clearly, with the continuing difficulties in the national economy and with a high proportion of Rother's residents on low or fixed incomes, many can't afford any increase in their Council Tax.

However, residents may want the Council to further protect the services that they get now and to look out for the long term future of the district.

What would your decision be?

We would value your input.

Thank you.   Rother District Council

Contact us

Online Response Form -  deleted because survey is closed.

Email           consultations@rother.gov.uk

Rother Citizens Panel members please email on citizenspanel@rother.gov.uk

Twitter      www.twitter.com/RDCconsult

Facebook     www.facebook.com/RotherDC

Write to

Budget and Council Tax Consultation 2015

Rother District Council

Town Hall

Bexhill on Sea

TN39 3JX

 

Comments and suggestions may be published in reports or other formats to help inform the Councillors and other residents of the debate but names and addresses will be kept confidential.

 

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