Eastbourne council blames ‘brutal’ Government cuts for council tax rise

Eastbourne Town Hall

Eastbourne Town Hall

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Cabinet councillors last night (Wednesday, February 8) agreed a 1.9 per cent council tax increase, the second rise in seven years, in the face of severe cuts in Government funding.

This represents an increase of nine pence per week on the average council tax bill for 2017/18.

The Government has reduced its funding to Eastbourne Borough Council by £1.5million which, taking into consideration inflation and other unavoidable costs, equates to £2 million.

Councillor Gill Mattock, Lead Cabinet Member for Financial Services, said, “These brutal cuts, year-on-year, effectively mean we now have the challenge of finding £2 million in new income or efficiency savings.

“Despite these ongoing cuts, we have worked extremely hard to maintain frontline services to the public through prudent financial management, generating new income streams, innovative practices and efficiencies.

“However, the task of finding these huge savings is becoming ever more difficult.”

Among these efficiency initiatives is a shared service programme with Lewes District Council which will deliver up to £2.7 million savings a year across both councils by 2019/20.

The Government cut of £1.5 million includes a £200,000 reduction in the New Homes Bonus, a scheme to promote house building, and a further £200,000 reduction in the amount of business rates the council is allowed to retain, which was only announced in January.

Cllr Mattock added, “Not only have we had to deal with our settlement being slashed again, but it wasn’t until after we had agreed our draft budget that the Government signalled yet more cuts to the New Homes Bonus and retained business rates.

“This has burdened us with uncertainty due to appeals over these reductions which have only just been finalised, as well as the obvious difficulty of having even less money to provide essential services for residents.”