Council tax information
Council tax is collected by Hastings Borough Council on behalf of East Sussex County Council, Hastings Borough Council, Sussex Police Authority and East Sussex Fire Authority.
The amount you pay to each authority is shown on our band values page.
How we use our share of the council tax
Council leader corporate plan statement 2020/21
This year, we've seen continued cuts in the government grant funding we receive. In 2010, our Revenue Support Grant, which used to be the main government grant we received, was £9m. Last year, it was reduced to nothing. This year, it has been reinstated to around a million pounds, but that simply replaces the money we've lost because the local business rates retention scheme has ended. But our New Homes Bonus grant has been cut too, by £357,000 - so austerity cuts to the money we receive from central government are still continuing. Since 2010, Hastings Council has lost around £60m, cumulatively, in government grant funding, from an annual budget of £15m.
But the council is having to spend more too. The cost of keeping homeless families in temporary accommodation has escalated, costing the council £380,000 more than we expected over the last year. There have been other one-off additional costs too - for example, the closure of the West Hill Cliff railway cost £100,000 in lost income and repairs, although we're hoping that will be reopened by Easter, or soon after.
These huge reductions in funding over the last ten years have been difficult to cope with, and have led to job losses and discontinuation of many of the services we used to provide. But we've also saved money by making the council more efficient, for example by installing new IT systems that replace manual administrative tasks, and improving online reporting and service applications through the 'My Hastings' website. But despite these savings, we've had to cover a budget deficit of £1.8m from reserves.
For the coming year, we've had to make some very big cuts and savings to make the books balance, amounting to around £1.8m. Some of these savings didn't involve any job losses or reductions in services - for example, savings of £150,000 were achieved by re-tendering the insurance contract. The new in-house street cleaning service and waste collection contract cost less than expected, with the in-house team taking on work from the waste collection contractor, resulting in savings of £200,000 a year.
Income generation remains a high priority. Commercial property purchases in Hastings over the last four years, ranging from the Dunelm retail park in Sedlescombe Road to the TK Maxx retail park in Bexhill and the new Aldi supermarket development in Bulverhythe have generated an additional million pounds a year net income. We're also buying housing to use as temporary accommodation, as this is cheaper than placing homeless families in bed & breakfast accommodation, which has helped us reduce the increase in costs.
We've also been very successful at raising money through competitive grants from external organisations, which has helped us fund new projects. In particular, a £1.5 million grant we successfully applied for from central government has helped us to reduce the numbers of people sleeping on the streets dramatically. In November 2018, there were around 50 people sleeping rough in Hastings. At the most recent count, the number was down to five.
But with such a large budget gap, it has been necessary to reduce the services we provide, to make the necessary savings. For example, council monitoring of our CCTV cameras has ceased - from now on, the cameras will only be monitored by the police, as they are in other towns in East Sussex. Around 20 jobs (full time equivalents) have been lost, with just under ten compulsory redundancies. We will also need to increase the Council Tax by the maximum allowed without a local referendum (1.99%). This will mean the Hastings Council portion of the council tax will increase for a band D property by around £5 a year. East Sussex County Council, Sussex Police, and East Sussex Fire and Rescue service will also be increasing their element of the council tax, but Hastings Council has no influence over this. East Sussex County Council will be allowed to increase their portion of the Council Tax bill by 3.99% - as over two thirds of the council tax collected goes to the county council, this will mean significant increases in the total Council Tax residents have to pay.
After all this, a budget deficit of around a million pounds remains. This does reduce in future years, but there's still a 'structural deficit' of around £500,000. Covering any further deficits from reserves will be difficult, as our reserves are getting depleted - so more service reductions will be necessary. This year, the government is carrying out a 'Fair Funding Review' of council spending, but this won't increase the total amount of money available to local government, only re-allocate it between different councils. We're assuming, for the purposes of future budgeting, that the fair funding review will result in no additional funding for Hastings Council. However, as the government is making no commitments to anyone at the moment, we really have no idea how much we'll have to spend in future years.
Despite all these pressures, we still have new responsibilities we have to cope with. Spending on temporary accommodation is likely to continue to increase, because homeless households are spending longer in temporary accommodation because there simply isn't enough rented accommodation in the borough that they can afford. Many of the inland cliffs in Hastings are owned by the council, and are in need of repairs and stabilisation. The Buckshole Reservoir dam in Alexandra Park needs around £1 million spent on it following enhanced government safety standards. And of course, we have to recognise our responsibility to deal with climate change. Earlier this year, the council unanimously approved a resolution declaring a climate emergency, and committing the council to work towards making Hastings carbon neutral by 2030. To help achieve that, two new staff posts were created, and a new cabinet post for a lead councillor on climate change. A climate change strategy and action plan is about to be published, laying out the steps the council will need to take to achieve this goal. Sustainable energy generation is an important part of that, and this could be a big earner for the council, but in the longer term. The council will be looking at the feasibility of installing solar arrays on roofs, car parks and land we own, as well as working with Energise Sussex Coast (a local sustainable energy co-operative) to get rooftop solar on properties throughout Hastings.
We also intend to continue our interventionist approach to improving our town by, for example, continuing to tackle derelict and scruffy buildings, through the Grotbuster scheme and renewing our selective licensing scheme, which has now licensed over 7,000 private rented homes, as well as prosecuting non-compliant landlords.
The council does still have an ambitious development programme. We can do this through schemes where there is no additional net cost to the council. For these capital schemes, we can take out loans and pay them back from income generated from the scheme itself. These 'no cost' schemes include the redevelopment of White Rock Gardens and the 'Bohemia Quarter' to create a new leisure centre and pool, a new performance venue, additional housing in Bohemia, and refurbished pleasure gardens. The development of housing on the 'Lower Tier' site off Bexhill Road will also provide up to 190 new low-carbon homes, 40-60% of them social rented housing, as well as putting measures in place to prevent flooding in the area.
Hastings is a borough that has transformed its reputation in recent years, from a shabby seaside backwater to the creative capital of the south-east coast. Despite the huge cuts in public funding we've had to face in the borough, to the borough council, county council, the police, and other public bodies, we'll do all we can to build on this, and work in partnership with others to make sure Hastings continues to flourish.
You can find more details on what we're doing in our Corporate Plan and Budget.
Councillor Peter Chowney
Leader, Hastings Borough Council
How we'll pay for our plans 2019/20 budgeted net expenditure: £'000 2020/21 gross expenditure: £'000 2020/21 gross income: £'000 2020/21 net expenditure: £'000 Corporate Resources 883 35,784 (35,408) 1,367 Operational Services 13,462 23,641 (12,017) 11,624 Sub Total 14,346 59,425 (47,425) 12,000 Contingencies (net) 300 300 Other income and expenditure 2,483 3,192 Net contribution to/from reserves (2,002) (1,247) Net council expenditure 15,127 59,425 (47,425) 14,245 Use of Reserves to Fund Deficit Less government grant, deficit (surplus) on collection fund and retained business rates (6,462) (5,970) Amount to be met by council tax payers (6,867) (7,094)
How other authorities use their share of council tax
You can find out about how these authorities use their share of the council tax you pay in the leaflets below:
Council tax information
- Direct Debit - sign up
- Pay - Council Tax
- View your My Hastings account
- Council Tax enquiry form
- Council tax moving home
Got a question about council tax?01424 451081
CommentsThe content on this page is the responsibility of our Revenues team.