Council Budget 2018/19

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Council Budget 2018/19

This was our consultation to help inform our revenue budget for 2018/19. It includes potential changes to your Council Tax charge. This consultation was for businesses, Council Tax payers and residents in Rother. NOW CLOSED.

Consultation opened: Friday 17 November 2017
Consultation closed: Friday 5 January 2018
Duration:  Eight weeks

What happened next

The final report on the consultation and the budget for 2018/19 was debated at Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 29 January and at Cabinet on 12 February.  The decision was to raise the Council Tax by 2.95% or £5 based on the average or Band D property (proportionately adjusted lower or higher for the other bands).

Questions Arising from the Consultation

Q:  Have you reduced management as well as staff?

A:  Yes.  Since 2011, we have reduced senior managers by 43%.  That included the post of Chief Executive.  This was part of the two rounds of staff cuts and cuts were made at all levels throughout the structure from the top to the bottom.   Our structure has always been quite flat but has been made much flatter.  Proportionately, more senior manager roles have been cut than to the staff as a whole.

Q:  Can't you raise income through civil parking enforcement?

Q:  No.  Firstly, Rother District Council does not have the authority to make this decision.  Secondly, this assumes civil parking enforcement will create an income.  Projections by East Sussex County Council say such a service will not pay for itself until the fourth year and only if people have to pay for on-street parking in town and village centres.  Thirdly, none of the money will come to Rother District Council.  Civil parking enforcement has to be run by the local highways authority, which is East Sussex County Council.  Rother District Council has been looking into civil parking enforcement. You can read our draft recommendation here Scrutiny Committee agenda 19 March 2018

Q: Can't you find efficiency savings, reduce bureaucracy, find cuts in how you run services?

A:  Yes.  We have a programme of projects being carried out now and for the next few years.  It takes three major approaches: finding efficiencies in our systems and processes, reducing the demand on our services and increasing our income.  The programme has target amounts to reduce costs and increase income.  The projects will cover everything we do.  However, these savings are already factored into our budget setting for the year ahead and as part of our medium term financial strategy. 

Q:  Can't you raise more income?

A:  Yes.  Raising income from a number of areas, from existing services to new assets, is a major part of our programme (mentioned above) to make the Council fit for the future. 

Q:  Can't you change your contracts, pay your contractors less, etc?

A:  We have reduced our contracts and do pay our contractors less.  In most cases it is more cost effective to wait until contracts come to an end before changing major requirements.  And contracts are affected by inflation.  Cutting contracts means lower quality or reducing what we are getting and has an impact on local employment.  For example, if we pay less on our grounds maintenance contract then the grass is cut less often and there are fewer people paid locally to do that work.  We have also tried to find savings by joining up contracts with other organisations.  A smaller contract is less attractive to the market and can affect how many companies bid for the work.  But if we do a joint contract with other organisations it becomes more worthwhile for the private sector to bid and we might all get a better deal because of economies of scale.   Again, we have included all of this work in our budget plans and our medium term financial strategy.

 

Your invitation to have your say

Rother District Council invited residents and businesses in Rother to have their say on the Council's budgets and Council Tax for the financial year 2018/19.

In particular, the Council needed to decide on the amount of Council Tax to charge residents in 2018/19.  What you told us will help us make our final decision and will inform our budget for 2018/19.

We consulted on what affects our revenue budget.  Our revenue budget is the money that is used to deliver our day-to-day services such as waste collection, street cleaning, leisure, planning and many more services.  The budget covers the running costs in delivering these services such as staff, buildings, paying suppliers and contractors and other operating costs.

Since 2011, the Government has cut its general grant to Rother District Council by over £6 million.  The grant used to be the main source of income to help pay for the costs in providing council services.  Now, most of the Council's services are paid partly from Council Tax, a small portion of the business rates we collect but mostly from other fees, charges and income sources

In 2016/17, the Government general grant was £1.073 million and in 2017/18 the grant was cut to £450,000. 

The Government has told us Rother District Council's general grant in 2018/19 will be just £72,500.  By 2020, the Government will not pay us any general grant. 

We may be allowed to keep some more of the local business rates that we currently collect and send to the Government.  We do not know when that will happen or how much money we may be able to keep, so we are not relying on it.

Our capital budgets are used to fund major projects and investments plus services such as aids and adaptations to the homes of disabled residents.  We are not consulting on our capital budget mainly because it is not directly funded by Council Tax and Government grant, like the revenue budget.

What happened as a result of last year's consultation?

When we consulted the public and businesses for the 2017/18 Budget, you told us you were prepared to see Council Tax go up because you wanted to keep local services.  We raised Council Tax by £5 a year, based on an average Band D property.  You can read about the consultation and what people told us on the consultation website and the outcome in the report to Cabinet in February 2017.  pdf icon 7.1 Draft Revenue Budget Proposals 2017/18 and Capital Programme 2017/18 to 2021/22 [606kb]

We have also taken account of your views about what's important to you in developing the Council's  Sustainability and Efficiency Plan.  This includes deciding which services we will be prioritising over the next three years and looking at how the services with a lower priority might be delivered in future.

pdf icon Sustainability and Efficiency Plan 2016/17 to 2019/20 [201kb]

Funding Gap over the next three years

When we take into account other changes to our spending and income generated from other sources, we expect there to be a shortfall in our income peaking at £1.7m in 2021.  The chart below shows the funding gap each year.

funding gap [image] Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window

We are trying to protect your services

Rother District Council has worked hard to keep delivering the services our residents say are important to them.  So far, we have managed to fill our funding gaps through efficiency savings, new partnerships and reducing waste and inefficiency. 

  • We have reduced our staff by one third (at all levels, including senior managers) since 2011
  • We have reduced our offices by half, since 2011. 
  • We have sold land and property that we do not need. 
  • We have handed over some things we do to others, such as allotment associations and parish councils, so that local services can be run and paid for by local people.

We will continue with this approach.  We are:

  • finding new sources of income,
  • investing in technology so that people who can help themselves have the tools to do so and
  • looking to others to help us deliver those services of a lower priority.

Our Medium Term Financial Strategy and our budgets found here give more detailed information about the Council's finances.  A pdf of the financial strategy is at the end of this article.

Council Tax Options

As we have said, income from Council Tax is very important to help fund the services we deliver.  Rother District Council's share of the overall Council Tax for the Rother area is around £7m or 10% (one pound in every ten) of the total £70m we collect from Council Tax payers.  The rest of the money (£63m) goes to East Sussex County Council, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, East Sussex Fire Authority and the parish and town councils because it is their money to pay for their services.  To continue to help to protect district council services, the Council is considering its options concerning Council Tax.  The options were:

Continue to Raise the Council Tax each year by £5 based on a Band D Property (lower bands pay less, higher bands pay more).  For 2018/19 this would increase the Rother District Council part of the Council Tax from £169.32 to £174.32.  It would help meet some of the funding gap but we will still be making savings.

Freeze the Council Tax at its current level. To meet the funding gap a freeze would mean we would have to find all the additional savings from the services we deliver now.

Raise the Council Tax by less than £5.  It would fill some the funding gap but not as much as raising by £5 as above.  Therefore, we would have to find additional savings from the services we deliver.

If we wanted to increase the Council Tax more than £5, then we will need to hold a referendum of the residents of Rother.  It is not our intention to do so. 

The Council's preferred option is to fill some of the funding gap by increasing the Council Tax by £5 for a Band D property. That amount will be less than £5 for lower band properties (A to C) and more than £5 for higher band properties (E and higher). Raising the Council Tax by an average of £5 will increase Rother District Council's income by £186,000.

We only consulted on the part of the Council Tax that comes to Rother District Council.  The Council collects the tax on behalf of all the precepting authorities and gives them their money.  Giving the other organisations their part of the Council Tax is not optional; it is their money.   Rother District Council just collects Council Tax on their behalf so that you only have to pay one bill from one organisation.  If you wish to see what those organisations propose, please go to their websites.

How to take part

We wanted to know:

  • Which option on Council Tax you preferred and why?
  • Are there any services you would like the Council to stop or reduce, in order to make savings, and why?
  • Are there any services you would like to protect and why?
  • Any other information you wished us to take into account when setting our budget for 2018/19?

You could have sent in your response using our online survey: This consultation is now closed and the online survey is no longer available.

Any questions? Please email consultations@rother.gov.uk

Write to Budget Consultation for 2018, Rother District Council, Town Hall, Bexhill-on-Sea, TN39 3JX

We will keep you informed on progress and answer any questions on our website and through our Twitter accounts @RDCConsult and @RotherDC and on Facebook.

What happened next

The final report on the consultation and the budget for 2018/19 was debated at Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 29 January 2018 and at Cabinet on 12 February 2018.  The decision was to raise the Council Tax by 2.95% or £5 based on the average or Band D property (proportionately adjusted lower or higher for the other bands).

Any questions?

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

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