Proposals to increase investment in key local services, such as street cleansing, graffiti cleaning and parks and open spaces, will be considered by the Cabinet on Thursday 11 January.
This is part of the council’s proposed budget for April 2024 to March 2025, which sets out how the huge range of public services the council provides, as well as spending on new proposals, will be financed. This is to ensure that the council delivers a balanced budget for the year ahead, which is required by law.
The revised budget now sets out plans for an extra £180,000 to tackle weed clearance and graffiti, and includes a one-off allocation of £50,000 to support working with the community to maximise participation in active sports and to improve the pitches at Jackey Bakers and elsewhere.
Proposals to increase net spending in council services by £2.2m were initially considered by the Cabinet in October 2023. This investment was proposed to address inflationary pressures as a result of rising costs in fuel, transport and staffing and crucially, to target more resources to the services which matter most to local people.
During a seven week public consultation, local people were invited to give feedback on the proposed budget as part of the annual residents’ survey. Views were also sought on what residents consider most important and most in need of improvement in Thanet, and on their general satisfaction with key council services. In addition to this, the council asked for feedback on its draft Corporate Plan for 2024-28. This document will set out the priority areas for the council to focus on over the next four years.
The timing of this exercise was coordinated to ensure that the final budget decisions, which will be taken by Full Council in February, reflect the priorities of local people.
A total of 558 people took the time to respond to the consultation, either as part of the targeted sample survey issued to 6,000 Thanet households, or through the open survey made available on the council’s online engagement platform, Your Voice Thanet.
Clean streets, thriving towns and feeling safe remain amongst the top priorities for local people. There was also broad support for the proposed Corporate Plan priorities and for the investment proposed as part the budget. The survey results are currently being analysed and will be published on the council’s website in the coming weeks.
The level of Council Tax and fees and charges for the year ahead will also be considered as part of the council’s annual process to deliver its statutory obligation to deliver a balanced budget.
The proposal is for Council Tax to increase by 3%, which would result in a £7.64 increase per year for households in Council Tax band D.
Fees and charges were originally proposed to rise by an average of 8%, based on anticipated inflation rates when the draft budget was published. However, it is now proposed to limit increases in key areas such as parking, green waste collection and the crematorium to 5% or less. The exact figures are being finalised.
Cabinet Member for Finance, Cllr Rob Yates, said: “I’d like to start by thanking everyone who responded to our consultation. Being clear on the things that matter most to local people means we can propose a budget that targets our finances to those areas. It’s been an ongoing message that balancing the budget is a difficult exercise made all the more difficult due to diminishing government funding. I’m proud that thanks to the hard work of Councillors and officers, our budget next year does not require us to cut important local services, but goes further and proposes additional investment in staffing and priority areas too. ”
The council’s budget is agreed in January each year, with final decisions taken by the full council in early February. The approved budget is then implemented in April at the start of the new financial year.
Since 2010, the council has seen a 60% reduction in funding from central government. In real terms this represents around £8million in cuts.
Thanet District Council receives just 12p in every £1 collected in the Council Tax paid by Thanet residents. For example, for an average Band D property making ten monthly payments of £207, Thanet District Council receives around £25 per payment month. The rest goes to a number of organisations: Kent County Council (70.6%), Kent Police and Crime Commissioner (11.2%), Kent & Medway Fire and Rescue Authority (4%) and Town / Parish councils (2.4% on average).
The Cabinet reports are available view here.