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 Peter Chowney's corporate plan statement 2019/20
This year, we've seen continued cuts in the government grant funding we receive. Revenue support Grant, the main government grant, has been cut to less than a million pounds. In 2010, this grant was £9m. On top of that, another of our big grants, New Homes Bonus, was cut to £556k - reduced by £456k or 55% since 2017/18. These grants have not been replaced by any other sources of government funding. Since 2010, Hastings Council has lost over £40m, cumulatively, in government grant funding, from an annual budget of £15m. With additional budgets arising from, for example, temporary accommodation for homeless households and additional costs of the new refuse collection contract, that left us with a budget deficit for 2019/20 of over £3m.
To cover this gap, the council has had to do two things: firstly, it has to run its own services more efficiently; and secondly, to generate more income.
Making the council more efficient has involved a range of actions, from reviewing the detail of the way staff work, to IT systems that replace manual administrative tasks, as well as improving online reporting and service applications through the 'My Hastings' website. We've now got most of the forms used for transactional council services online - we're working hard to get the remaining 60 or so will go online as soon as possible. But we've also had to make big cuts to council services to produce a balanced budget, with over a million pounds in service reductions agreed. That means around 15 full time equivalent (FTE) jobs, although there will be only two FTE compulsory redundancies, thanks to the careful use of vacancy freezes, redeployment, and voluntary redundancies.
Income generation remains a high priority. There are three main strands to this: commercial property purchases, the council housing company, and energy generation.
Commercial Property Purchase is the easiest way to generate significant income quickly. The council has recently bought, for example, the Bexhill Road development site where an Aldi supermarket is now being constructed and the Jewson's builders' merchants on Sedlescombe Road, a number of other purchases are also in the pipeline. These purchases will generate a net income of over £200k in a full year, which when added to the previous year's purchases, contributes in excess of £900k to our budget.
The new council-owned housing company has begun buying properties in Hastings, to make them available for rent. As well as boosting the supply of good quality, well-managed rented housing, this will help us reduce our bill for temporary bed & breakfast accommodation. We'll also be leasing more homes from private owners through our Social Lettings Agency to reduce these costs. And we'll be developing housing sites the council owns, to provide both homes for rent and for sale.
We've also been very successful at raising money through competitive grants from external organisations, in particular the European Union. During 2018, we raised over £6.7 m in external grants, although this money cannot be used to cover the budget deficit - it's to fund, specific additional projects - for example, to provide employment and community development initiatives in the most deprived parts of town, and get rough sleepers into permanent accommodation.
Energy generation is a potential big earner, but longer term. Hastings Council is intending to establish a local supply network for electricity generated from local sustainable sources, which would both earn the council income and make cheap electricity available for local people and businesses. We have already installed solar panels on the roof of the council offices, at Muriel Matters House. During this year, we'll be installing solar panels on other roofs, both those the council owns and those owned by other organisations and businesses. We'll also be developing ground-mounted solar. Sustainable energy generation both raises income for the council, and helps us to reduce our carbon footprint, essential as part of our commitment to work towards making Hastings carbon-neutral by 2030.
However, these initiatives will not be enough to cover the £3m budget gap, so we'll have to use £1.75m from our reserves to make the 2019/20 budget balance. That means further service reductions will be needed next year.
We will also need to increase the Council Tax by the maximum allowed without a local referendum (2.99%). This will mean the Hastings Council portion of the council tax will increase for a band D property by £7.69 a year, to £265.50. 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.
There will be some growth in the budget, although this will be limited. We have created a new post (by reorganising other posts in the regeneration team) so we can press ahead with the redevelopment of White Rock Gardens and the Bohemia Quarter: to create a new performance venue to replace the White Rock Theatre and a new Leisure Centre to replace Summerfields. We're also intending to redevelop the West Marina bathing pool site for mixed leisure and housing use, as outlined in the Local Plan. And we'll keep applying for external grants, in particular to help us fund regeneration projects and continue improvements to the seafront and town centre.
We have a substantial capital programme this year, too. This will fund housing purchases by the council-owned Hastings Housing Company, further commercial property purchases, and capital equipment and depot works for the new Street Cleaning Direct Service Organisation. This takes over from the current contractor in June, and will provide a more responsive, better equipped, and better staffed street cleaning service, to keep our town cleaner and tidier.
We intend to continue our interventionist approach to improving our town by, for example, continuing to tackle derelict and scruffy buildings, through the Grotbuster scheme, our compulsory purchase programme of empty homes, and our selective licensing scheme, which has now licensed over 7,000 private rented homes, as well as prosecuting non-compliant landlords.
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 town, 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 2018/19 budgeted net expenditure: £'000 2019/20 gross expenditure: £'000 2019/20 gross income: £'000 2019/20 net expenditure: £'000 Corporate Resources 1,245 46,924 (45,557) 1,367 Operational Services 11,056 19,607 (7,649) 11,958 Sub Total 12,301 66,531 (53,206) 13,325 Contingencies (net) 500 300 Other income and expenditure 2,306 2,518 Net contribution to/from reserves (694) (1,027) Net council expenditure 14,413 15,116 Use of Reserves to Fund Deficit (555) (927) Less government grant, deficit (surplus) on collection fund and retained business rates (6,779) (6,503) Amount to be met by council tax payers 6,595 6,867
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
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