Councillors at Thanet District Council have today (Thursday 6 February) approved the proposed budget for 2020-21 at a Full Council Budget meeting.
Investment in 10 new permanent environmental operatives, plans to refurbish public toilets, a renewed focus on climate change including the appointment of a Climate Change Officer are just some of the proposals that members agreed.
The report sets out the council’s financial position for the year ahead. It also identifies how the council is going to allocate £17.1 million to fund services for the next 12 months (April 2020 – March 2021). This will ensure that resources are targeted to the areas that matter most to local people.
The money that is used to fund public services is made up of Council Tax receipts, income generation including from fees and charges, retained Business Rates and Government funding (including Revenue Support Grant and New Homes Bonus).
The budget is set at the same time annually in order to set the coming year’s Council Tax for the residents of Thanet and to meet the council’s legal obligation to produce a balanced budget. In order to achieve this, Members agreed an increase of £4.95 for Thanet District Council’s element of Council Tax – for an average Band D property this equates to a weekly increase of less than 10p per week.
The Government’s housing rent policy stipulates an increase of Consumer Prices Index (CPI) plus 1% for council tenants. This represents an average weekly rent increase of £2.41. For those in receipt of Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, payments will cover the majority of this. Despite the financial challenges the council faces, members have elected to freeze affordable rents for council tenants.
Pending publication of the Government’s final Local Government Finance Settlement 2020-21, the Fair Funding Review and review of Business Rates, coupled with historic reductions in Government funding, the report sets out that the financial backdrop to setting next year’s budget has never been more uncertain. Therefore, to achieve the required level of savings, Members also agreed to a number of recommendations for income generation and efficiencies which are detailed in the report.
Cabinet Member for Financial Services, Cllr Rob Yates, said: “We hope that this budget addresses the needs of the residents whilst investing further in council activities and putting in place a plan for growth in public services. Thanet District Council has had the largest fall in spending power over the last 10 years, compared with every Council in Kent. We now have only 62% of the spending power that we had back in 2010.
“Within this budget we are fixing health and safety problems in our housing stock, building at least 40 new council houses, investing in a new housing company to bring new properties to the market, introducing 10 new environmental operatives to improve street cleansing, increasing levels of recycling, refurbishing public toilets, increasing council tax on long term empty homes and introducing a Climate Change Officer post. We hope that this budget will mean that in years to come we will be in a better place to meet the many demands of the most important people in Thanet, you the residents.”
Thanet District Council receives just 13p in every £1 of Council Tax. The remainder goes to: Kent County Council, Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, Kent Fire and Rescue Service and Town/Parish Councils.
The budget will be implemented from 1 April 2020.