Wealden proposes council tax rise

Wealden District Council, Hailsham
Wealden District Council, Hailsham

Wealden council leaders have put forward proposals to raise council tax by 2.7 per cent next year – increasing the annual bill of the average Band D home by £5.

The potential increase was discussed at a meeting of Wealden District Council’s cabinet on Wednesday (December 12) as part of a report on a number of budget proposals.

According to the report, the council expects to have to find £600,000 of savings or additional income.

During the meeting council leader Bob Standley spoke to recommend the proposals. He said: “I know there has been a debate about the [council tax] increase, here and privately. My recommendation is that we go for the £5 a year increase, which is 2.7 per cent.

“That is for a Band D… we just use that as an indication. If you are in a Band H you will pay £10 and if you are in a Band A it will go up by £3.33.

“Per week it is a fairly small amount. But I know if you are just about managing, [then] it is an extra cost.”

Cllr Standley said the increase in Wealden’s share would be small in comparison to other increases to the council tax – pointing out the significant increase expected to the Sussex police precept.

He also warned of a number of ‘uncertainties’ which could affect the 2019/20 budget, including Brexit.

Other factors affecting the budget included the cost of the new joint waste contract and the Government’s comprehensive spending review.

Cllr Standley also expressed frustration that Westminster has yet to announce the details of the local government finance settlement, saying he was ‘disappointed but not surprised.’

He said: “Yet again we are in the position where we don’t actually know the settlement figure, although there was supposed to be a three-year deal that we signed up for.

“The Government promised to let us have the figures on December 6 and I think it was on the fourth or fifth that we got a note saying it had been delayed because of the meaningful vote on Brexit, which in itself got delayed.

“Quite honestly, I’m not sure where we are now up to on that.

The draft proposals also include a two per cent increase to members’ allowances in 2019/20 and a one per cent increase every year after that. These proposals were put forward by the Independent Remuneration Panel and coincide with a reduction in the overall number of Wealden councillors from 55 to 45.

The full proposals will now go out for public consultation before being determined by the full council next year.

Huw Oxburgh, Local Democracy Reporting Service