Homeowners could face average £60 county council tax rise

East Sussex councillors will next week consider proposals to increase the county’s portion of council tax by more than £60 for the average Band D home for the year 2017/18.east_sussex_county_council_web

This will mean a rise from £1,251.90 in 2016/17 to £1,314.36 in 2017/18.

The figure includes a 3% increase in precept for adult social care (£37.53), and nearly 2% increase in the level of the general council tax (£24.93).

The council is considering spending £365m on services in 2017/18 after making savings of £17m. This is £7 million less than the savings originally estimated to be needed in October.

The draft budget goes before the council’s cabinet on Tuesday, January 24, and will be put to a vote at full council on Tuesday, February 7.

Highways maintenance

A capital programme, 2016-2023 is recommended for approval by cabinet and includes a commitment to a five-year highways maintenance programme of more than £90m.

Proposed reductions in funding include those in the following areas:

  • 200 county council jobs in the next two years
  • Funding for carer support and services
  • Funding for housing support needs, which helps people who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, including those with a disability.
  • Spending on coordination of services and support for people in treatment for substance misuse.
  • Day centre services
  • Residents facing temporary financial hardship
  • Community support for learning disabilities
  • Community safety, covering areas such as domestic abuse
  • Children’s services – Uckfield Youth Centre has already been closed and the county is proposing that it should no longer act as a licensed organisation for the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.

The full range of services which could be hit can be seen in papers accompanying the agenda for the cabinet meeting. See the final savings proposals here 

Money

The council’s gets its money from three main sources council tax, business rates and government grant.

The government has been reducing its grant and this has resulted in the shortfall of £17m in 2017/18.

Problems specific to the county include residents being poorer than the average for England, poor transport infrastructure and connectivity which limits business growth, and a high proportion of older people.

People aged over 85

The number of people aged over 85 is expected to rise by 9.5% between 2016 and 2020. The proportion of people of school age is expected to rise marginally. The proportion with high need special educational needs and disability is above the national average.

Council priorities so far have included driving economic growth, keeping vulnerable people safe, helping people help themselves, and making the best use of resources.

Documents before the council say councillors face difficult choices between:

  • Delivering universal services and meeting the needs of a small number of very vulnerable people; 
  • Meeting current need and investing in prevention; 
  • Acting in the economic interest of the council set against the wider economic interests of the county as a whole;
  • The drive for efficiency and accepting there are limits to savings that can be made before real service reductions are inevitable.

School places

The new capital programme contains “only minimum provision for school places, highways, building maintenance, ICT and house adaptations”.

Raised business rates are seen as an increasingly important source of income for the council, so supporting local economic growth is considered important.

Access to better jobs would also increase the health and wellbeing of residents and help mitigate demand for services.

Targets

Actions and targets for the next three years are still a work in progress until final budget allocations are made and firm targets can be set. They will be published by April 1, 2017, and refreshed in July when final performance outturn figures for 2016/17 are available.

The council’s chief executive Becky Shaw says the scale of savings required in 2017/18 remains “significantly challenging” at £17m, which is equivalent to 4.7% of the council’s net revenue budget.

Further cuts of £21m are planned for the financial year 2018/19.

Uckfield

The county council tax is only one part of the total bill to be paid by Uckfield people from April.

Smaller amounts will also be included from Uckfield Town Council, Sussex Police, East Sussex Fire and Rescue and Wealden District Council.

Uckfield Town Council is increasing its tax by about £3.80 for the average band D council taxpayer. The annual amount will go up from £149.74 to £153.57.

Wealden has said it is aiming to restrict its increase to £5 and Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner has consulted on an increase of £5 per household.

See also:

Petition launched to save Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme

Council looks for new organisation to run youth centre

The good, the bad and the ugly, highlighted by Observer

Find local businesses in our Uckfield Directory

How to advertise on UckfieldNews.com

 

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