Council launches corporate plan and budget consultation
Hastings Borough Council has published its draft corporate plan and budget proposals for the next financial year (1st April 2021 - 31st March 2022).
Council leader Kim Forward explained,
"Last year the council agreed its corporate plan until 2024 and then Covid-19 arrived with its unprecedented impacts so we have updated the key activities in our corporate plan for 2021/2. These reflect our significant new commitments as a result of the pandemic and our continued intention to provide the key services local people need.
"Our vision and priorities in the corporate plan remain the same despite an ever more challenging and uncertain financial position. Our priorities are to: tackle homelessness, poverty and do all we can to ensure quality housing; keep Hastings clean and safe; make the best use of our land, buildings, public realm and cultural assets; minimise environment and climate harm in all that we do; progress our major regeneration schemes, particularly the Town Investment Plan; ensure that the council can survive and thrive into the future and now, of course, managing our response to the ongoing impact of the pandemic and help our community and businesses recover from its effects."
Cllr Peter Chowney, lead councillor for financial management and estates, added,
"The corporate plan sets out what we want to achieve, our budget explains how we pay for it.
"After ten years of government austerity cuts, the council was already facing its most challenging financial period, before Covid-19 struck. Now there are even higher levels of uncertainty, making it even harder to balance our budget.
"Although the council has received significant additional funding from central government to help with the impact of the virus, we have paid out very large sums too - for example, in emergency food support, staffing the community hub, administering grant schemes for local businesses and providing temporary accommodation for the most vulnerable. Our income has been very much reduced as well - for example, in lower car park income and far fewer cliff railway passengers.
"But in this very difficult year, we don't think it's right to cut services significantly or make more staff redundant. We also want to protect the most vulnerable in our community, which is why we're still one of the few councils in the country to retain a 100% Council Tax Reduction Scheme for most people on out-of-work benefits. So to achieve a balanced budget, we'll be using nearly £1.6m of our reserves.
"We remain ambitious for our town even in these most challenging of financial times. A new hotel in Cornwallis Street, the Harold Place redevelopment, new units at Churchfields Industrial Estate, and the Bexhill Road housing scheme are all worthwhile regeneration schemes. But until local government is once again properly funded by central government, and the needs of deprived towns such as Hastings are recognised, it's going to be very difficult to provide the levels of services our community needs."
Cllr Forward concluded,
"Even in these uncertain times we must continue to look forward to what we believe we can achieve together. We would appreciate your input, so please look at our draft corporate plan and budget proposals on our website, www.hastings.gov.uk."