Press Releases week beginning 18 January 2016
Council Consults on 2016/17 Budget
Hastings Borough Council has started consulting on its 2016/17 budget, and is asking for responses on its proposals by Friday 12th February.
Council leader Cllr Peter Chowney explained :- "We announced a two year budget last year and I am very pleased that, by careful management, our financial position is close to where we thought it would be, and we are not looking to make further significant cuts in services, or jobs, as part of this budget, but will need to look to reduce costs further throughout 2016.
"But it has not been, and will not be, easy. Our government grant has been cut by 54% since 2010 and we are facing further reductions in our budget over the next four years. For example our revenue support grant, our main government grant, is being cut by a further 23.9% next year, and is expected to be cut by some 73.5% between now and 2019.
"We are facing increased cost pressures from national insurance costs, pensions and pay as well as reductions in other core grants such as the 'new homes bonus', and the money we receive to manage housing benefits.
"To try and reduce the impact of these losses we are working hard to maximise income, and our budget proposals include an investment in another new factory to guarantee high skilled jobs, a programme of income generation activity and 'invest to save' projects.
"We continue to be an ambitious council and are working hard with partners to deliver our priorities. We will be renovating 30 homes over the next two years in St Leonards with AmicusHorizon, as well as seeing the outcome of our hard work over the last few years .Our seafront regeneration will continue, with Hastings Pier reopening this Spring, and The Source, BMX / Skate Park opening in the White Rock Baths in February. And of course we'll be celebrating the 950th anniversary of Battle of Hastings, with our ROOT1066 international contemporary arts festival and support for a great programme of activity in Hastings Week.
"We are looking to provide quality business space as demand increases, tackle empty homes and derelict properties, and continue to improve homes in the private rented sector.
"Although I am delighted that I am not having to announce further major cuts to jobs and services this year, the cuts in government grant we're facing mean we will have to work hard over the next year to find different, more cost effective ways to provide services, for example by enabling more service applications to be made online. The council will need to change, focusing on activities and projects that can be self-financing or funded by grants from the European Union, for example. Some of these changes will inevitably mean job losses, as that's the only way the council can save significant amounts of money. We will be working closely with our staff to manage this process as fairly and transparently as we can, and will keep any compulsory redundancies to a minimum."
"The Hastings Borough Council share of the council tax, 14% of the overall council tax bill in Hastings, will be increased by 1.99%, which is the maximum allowed. However, that amounts to around 8p a week for a band D property. We are continuing to protect the most vulnerable residents in our town by maintaining our existing council tax discount scheme, unlike many other local councils who are requiring all working age residents to pay a portion of council tax regardless of their income.
"The full draft corporate plan and budget is now available, and we would like any comments to be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
"We will consider all comments received on our proposals by 12th February, and these will be reported to our Budget Cabinet on 15th February, with Full Council making the final decision on the 2016/17 budget on 24th February."
Youth Council discuss council budget and Children's Services
At a meeting of Hastings Youth Council last Thursday (14 January) the council's deputy leader Councillor Kim Forward gave a presentation on Hastings Borough Council's 2016/17 Budget Consultation.
Cllr Forward commented:
"I was very pleased to have been invited by the Youth Council to their meeting to discuss the council's 2016/17 Budget Consultation and the impact that this budget will have on services the council provide.
"They have all been invited to put forward their comments on the proposals by 12 February, and together with all other comments received they will be reported to our Budget Cabinet on 15 February, with the final decision on the 2016/17 budget being made by Full Council on 24 February."
During the evening the group were joined by Stuart Gallimore, Director of Children's Services for East Sussex and East Sussex County Councillor Sylvia Tidy, lead member for Children's Services who gave presentations about the service and future cuts that need to be made. They were both very impressed with the keen interest shown by Youth Council members who raised concerns about £14M in savings that will need to be made by Children's Services and the impact this will have on local people.
For more information about Hastings Youth Council or to become a member visit: www.hastingsyouthcouncil.co.uk