Chichester District Council’s portion of the council tax bill will rise by £5 in April

Wednesday, 9 March 2022 20:03

By Karen Dunn - Local Democracy Reporter

The increase – which will add £275,200 to the council’s coffers – was approved on Tuesday (March 8).

It means Band D bills will rise from £170.81 to £175.81 – with another £1,555.74 for the county council and £224.91 for Sussex Police. During the same meeting, the council’s £15.015m revenue budget and £20.7m Capital Programme for 2022/23 were also approved. The pandemic has heaped pressure on the council’s finances for the past two years.

Loss of income has seen authorities up and down the country drawing on their reserves in order to balance their budgets.

In 2021/22, the amount taken from Chichester’s General Fund Reserve was £2.1m – in 2022/23 it will be £808,100.

Peter Wilding, cabinet member for finance, said: “We are keeping council tax as low as we can, and we still remain one of the lowest charging authorities in the country – but we need to ensure that vital services continue and that we are providing support to those people in our communities that need it the most.

“The pandemic has continued to have a huge impact upon our finances, but through our efficiency savings programmes and new income generation, we have managed to protect front line services and invest in new priority services. We have worked really hard to close the budget gap from £2.1m last year to £808,000 this year, which we are incredibly proud of.”

The draw on reserves had been set at £576,100 but increased when the council approved calls from Liberal Democrats to take on two new officers for two years.

The first – a growth and sustainability officer – will be tasked with promoting economic growth in the district by supporting local businesses, helping to create apprenticeships and jobs.

The second – a landscape officer – will provide specialist landscape design advice to developers and planners.

Proposing the post, Liberal Democrat leader Adrian Moss said: “Across the district we are seeing situations where the landscape is  being desecrated by developers who fail to follow planning conditions. 

“A landscape officer can make a really positive impact on the landscape and on biodiversity net gain. 

“We are committed to ensuring that our landscape is enhanced and not damaged by a failure of the council to respond to residents’ demands.”
Leader Eileen Lintill said the council’s ability to reduce its budget gap so much was down to a programme of savings approved last year.

She added: “The savings and additional income that have been achieved have meant that we have not had to cut any front-line services and that we have been able to accommodate significant cost pressures, including over £1m of additional staffing costs. 

“It has also meant that we are able to invest in new priority services.

“Due to our prudent financial management over the years, we have been able to fund this year’s deficit from reserves. 

“However, we intend to close the budget gap over the next five-years using the Future Services Framework approved by council in January.”

The framework is a three-stage process set up to shape and determine the types and levels of services to be provided as the council works towards closing the budget gap.
 

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