Inflation-busting council tax rises should be expected by Uckfield townspeople in the coming weeks – and the years to come.
Uckfield Town, Wealden District and East Sussex County councils will formally announce rises in the next month or so which will far exceed the rate of inflation, which has hovered around zero for some time.
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne also hopes to increase the amount people pay for the police with East Sussex Fire and Rescue to come on top of that.
Paul Watson reports:
Subject to final ratification, Uckfield Town Council has said its share of the council tax will go up by about 6.5 per cent and Wealden by 1.9 per cent.
The county council looks to be upping its portion of the bill – by far the greatest amount – by nearly four per cent.
Chairman of Uckfield Town Council finance sub committee, Cllr Paul Sparks, Liberal Democrat, North Ward, has examined Wealden’s budget plans for 2016/17 and its medium term financial strategy for 2016/21.
Cllr Sparks said the budget for next year, with the increase council tax, did not seem “unreasonable, bearing in mind the financial pressures”.
He reported to the town council’s general purposes committee:
“WDC appears to be managing their costs well and have factored a wage rise of one per cent, although changes to National Insurance contributions will increase employers’ outlay by 3.4 per cent and employees by 1.4 per cent.”
He was concerned to find no budget in the coming year for the Safer Wealden Partnership, which he understood was mainly about road safety.
“Bearing in view that Wealden has high figures for death and serious injuries for road accidents, this is very concerning,” he said.
He said homelessness was becoming a serious issue in Wealden, as highlighted by the CAB.
“It would appear that Wealden people are being sent to Brighton for accommodation but there is nothing in this budget to address that situation,” Cllr Sparks said.
Looking at the medium-term financial strategy of the district council, Cllr Sparks reported:
“This is a very interesting document with a forecast that the major preceptors – WDC, ESCC Police and Fire – increase their council tax by 1.9 per cent in each year during this period and that parish/town councils have a three per cent rise each year.”
He said the 1.9 per cent figure for the county did not include the two per cent now allowed by the government for adult social care.
Uckfield Town Council has been looking at ways it can plug gaps caused by the district and county council cutbacks in services.
At Maresfield, the chairman of the parish council told a meeting just before Christmas that the only way to secure improvements for the village was for the parish council to pay for required works because they would not be funded by the district/county councils.