Eastbourne council leaders have backed a 2.99 per cent increase to council tax as part of the authority’s annual budget proposals.
At a meeting on Wednesday (February 6), Eastbourne Borough Council Liberal Democrat-led cabinet formally gave its backing to proposals for the 2019/20 budget.
The proposals include increasing council tax by 2.99 per cent and finding savings of £1.7m – to be found by cutting costs by £600,000 and increasing council income by £1.1m.
Council leader David Tutt said: “This is not an easy time for local government, wherever you happen to be. But looking at the reports we have seen today and looking at the reports I was reading yesterday at the county council, I can’t help but contrast the two.
“Both councils, and councils across the UK, have been hit relentlessly by cuts in government grant.
“The big difference is that yesterday we were looking at a massive list of cuts to services [at the county council] and other than one year – where there were two services we had to cut here – we have managed to go from 2007 without cutting any front-line services.
“That has been by taking a totally different approach to the way that local government operates.
“We have put economic development at top of the list of our priorities for very good reasons, because we believe if we get that right then other good things float on from it.”
The council tax increase and other budget proposals will go ahead if approved at a full council meeting on February 20.
Raising the council tax by 2.99 percent would mean a Band D household in Eastbourne will pay £246.77 per year to the council in 2019/20.
But the overall increase is expected to be much higher however as other authorities – including East Sussex County Council and the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner’s office – have also increased their share of council tax.
The 2019/20 budget also marks the first year in which Eastbourne Borough Council receives no Revenue Support Grant (RSG) from central government. Last year RSG brought in around £445,000 to the council budget.
While the council still receives some ringfenced money from government, the council says it will still amount to a 40 per cent reduction in government resources between 2016 and 2020.
According to a report from the council’s chief finance officer Homira Javadi this reduction in government support will require further change to how the council operates its finances in coming years.
In her report, Ms Javadi said: “The council is reasonably placed financially to meet the demands on its services as well as the reductions in Government support.
“However, the challenge over the medium term is profound and more change is necessary to move to a sustainable position.
“The council is more dependent on commercial activities than it has ever been and this requires a high level of monitoring and risk management.”
Eastbourne Borough Council’s final budget arrangements are expected to be agreed at meeting on Wednesday, February 20.