The budget for the coming financial year was approved by Rother District Council at the Full Council meeting held yesterday (Monday, February 22).
Over £16m will be spent on providing essential services across the district during 2021/22, including waste collection and recycling, licensing and environmental health, planning, community safety and homelessness services.
£3.3m of council reserves will have to be used to meet specific costs, including supporting the Capital Programme and an estimated £2.7m to support service expenditure.
The budget also includes a further grant of £519,000 from central government to support the ongoing effects of the pandemic in 2021/22, and a target to deliver an additional £632,000 of income and savings.
Council Tax will be increased by £4.61 (2.5%) for a Band D property per year, to just over £188.00.
The agreed rise will increase the council’s income from Council Tax by £83,000 to just over £7m. However, increasing unemployment due to the impact of Covid-19 may mean less people are able to pay their Council Tax, directly affecting the amount of money the council receives.
Cllr Kevin Dixon, Cabinet member for Finance and Performance Management, said: “We know that times are hard for many of our residents at the moment and increasing Council Tax is not a decision we have taken lightly. However, the council faces ongoing financial pressures in manging the demand for services whilst at the same time having to reducing our costs.
“The amount received from Government for ongoing costs has diminished and we hope that the outcome of the forthcoming spending review better reflects the cost pressures on District Councils.”
Cllr Dixon continued: “The coronavirus pandemic and our response to it is understandably of huge concern to residents at the moment.
“Whilst we are pleased central Government has recognised the need to provide some financial assistance to us this year and next year, it hasn’t met all our costs in responding to the pandemic and we have also suffered a loss of income due to the necessary restrictions and national lockdowns. However, the council has adequate reserves to see us through this difficult time”.
When setting the 2021/22 budget the council considered responses from the budget consultation. The consultation asked residents which issues were a priority for them and how they would like the council to respond to the financial pressures it faces.
The top priority issues for residents who took part in the consultation were the coronavirus pandemic and the issues arising from it, the NHS and healthcare, crime and community safety, social care provision, and the economy and economic situation.
Nearly three quarters of those who responded agreed that the council should prioritise spending to protect services for the most vulnerable, and a large number agreed that services should be streamlined where necessary.
Cllr Dixon said: “The recent budget consultation shows Rother residents accept the need for prudent financial management to ensure our funds are spent where they are most needed.
“We have been able to agree a budget that will, coupled with ongoing careful financial planning, enable us to continue to provide essential services to the people of Rother while supporting our most vulnerable residents.”
More information on the budget, including a full breakdown of the figures, can be found in the councillors, democracy and meetings section of the website.
Published: 23rd February 2021