Council tax information
Council Leader Peter Chowney on the 2017-18 Corporate Plan
Hastings council still faces big cuts to its government grant funding. The main government grant will be cut by 28% this year, and will disappear altogether by 2020. In total, the grants received from central government by Hastings Council were cut by £1.2m this year.
To cover this gap, the council has embarked on a range of initiatives to save money and generate new income, without cutting services. Commercial property investments, including the purchase of the council's own offices at Muriel Matters House, building a new factory for BD Foods at Castleham Estate, and the purchase of the Sedlescombe Road Retail Park, have generated around £400,000 in net income. Investing in new software through our Digital by Design programme to streamline internal administrative services and make more services available online will save around £235,000 during 2016-2018. Reorganising our internal processes to make them more efficient will produce further savings. We've increased Council Tax by £5 a year (for a Band D property), raising around £125,000.
All of these income generation and savings measures have gone a long way to cover the cut in government grant. But to make matters worse, there are additional pressures on the council's budget - for example, from the new apprenticeship levy and increasing levels of homelessness. With grant cuts of this scale, coupled with new budgetary pressures, some cuts to front line services are inevitable.
This year, we've been able to keep these cuts to a minimum, with the closure of Harold Place toilets the only significant cut in our front-line services. Without our new income generation initiatives and the Digital by Design programme, these cuts would have been much more severe. A balanced budget can only been achieved for the coming year by using an estimated £546,000 from our reserves, but these reserves won't last forever. By 2019/20, a gap of £2.1m in the budget is currently predicted. To cover this gap, we'll be looking primarily at new income generation schemes, including further commercial property investments, sustainable energy generation, and generating income from our parks and seafront. However, some further frontline service cuts are inevitable.
Nevertheless, the council remains ambitious, and we intend to continue with our record of intervening to transform and regenerate our town. Over the past year, Hastings pier has reopened, thanks partly to the council's compulsory purchase and cash funding of the project. The council's old White Rock Baths have re-opened as a world-class skateboard and BMX centre. Bottle Alley has been refurbished, improvements have taken place to the area around the pier, and the ROOT1066 cultural festival marked the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, attracting 70,000 visitors to watch events and performances. Visitors and businesses are now looking at our town as somewhere that's improving and going places. We are determined to build on this to bring more jobs and prosperity, despite the financial restrictions imposed on us. We will continue our interventionist approach to improving our town by, for example, continuing to tackle derelict and scruffy buildings, through the Grotbuster scheme and our compulsory purchase programme of empty homes. We're already making a difference to the quality of our private rented sector, through the new selective licensing scheme. We will also look for new ways to help the most deprived communities in our town, and address the persistent problems that exist in the poorest neighbourhoods, such as poverty, worklessness and homelessness.
Hastings Borough Council will have to become a different Council. While some services will be reduced or disappear, we will provide new services in different ways. Overall, we remain optimistic and ambitious for the town and its future.
Councillor Peter Chowney
Leader, Hastings Borough Council
How we'll pay for our plans
2016/17 budgeted net expenditure: £'000 2017/18 gross expenditure: £'000 2017/18 gross income: £'000 2017/18 net expenditure: £'000 Corporate Resources 3,021 67,724 (65,031) 2,693 Operational Services 12,346 25,451 (13,648) 11,802 15,367 93,174 (78,679) 14,495 Contingencies (net) 400 400 Other income and expenditure 738 1,064 Net contribution to/from reserves (806) (2,260) Net council expenditure 15,698 13,699 Less government grant, deficit (surplus) on collection fund and retained business rates (9,644) (7,417) Amount to be met by council tax payers 6,054 6,282
Your Council Tax Bill explained
Your Council Tax goes towards East Sussex County Council, East Sussex Fire and Rescue, Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner and Hastings Borough Council. For more information, see the documents below:
- East Sussex County Council Council Tax leaflet
- East Fire and Rescue Council Tax leaflet
- Sussex Police Council Tax leaflet
Please pay on time!
What happens if you don't pay your bill:
We are only required to send you one reminder notice in a financial year. If you pay late again you may be sent a final notice and lose your right to pay by instalments.
If you receive a final notice you must pay the full amount. If you are unable to pay in full you must contact us straight away so we can help you.
If you don't pay or contact us, we will issue a court summons.
If you get a court summons for non payment, £95 of court costs will be added to your bill. You can pay in full to stop a Liability Order being granted.
You do not have to go to the Court unless you think the bill is not yours to pay.
After the court hearing, you will be sent a liability order notice together with a financial statement pro-forma which you must complete and return by law. We will then contact you to discuss a suitable payment arrangement. We may decide to take money from your earnings or benefits depending on your circumstances. When the Financial Statement is returned, each case will be looked into and the customer's individual circumstances will be evaluated.
Generally, customers will be offered an arrangement and a letter will be sent to confirm this. Where an arrangement is deemed not appropriate an Attachment to Earnings will be set up if the customer is not on Income Support, Job Seeker's Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance.
After 21 days, if you haven't returned your financial statement and agreed how you are going to pay your arrears, we will pass your debt to our Enforcement Agents (previously known as bailiffs).
Fees, which could be in excess of £300, will be added to your outstanding Council Tax debt.
Got a question about council tax?01424 451081
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