ROTHER District Council is proposing to freeze its Council Tax for another year – but is
warning residents that, in the face of unprecedented Government cuts, some services might have to be reduced.
The authority is about to start consulting on its budget for 2013/14 and is asking people what they think of the proposals.
The council is expecting further cuts of up to 30 per cent from Government in the next three years, meaning a total 60 per cent cut in its budget over the last four years.
In response, Rother is increasing its efforts to cut expenditure and increase income from its discretionary services. The authority has already saved almost £2 million in the last two years. With a reduction in resources, it says it needs to work out the best way to spend its limited money.
The council is encouraging groups, societies, parish and town councils to step forward and fill the gap to help provide some services – or they may be cut back or no longer be provided by Rother. This might include activities such as allotments, planting and public toilets.
The draft budget sets out Rother’s priorities for investment as being the local economy - in order to help the job market – managing its land and assets to best effect to provide an income stream and helping to promote tourism as a crucial part of the area’s economic landscape.
A priority is the extension of superfast broadband throughout the district to help homeworking and small and medium-sized businesses.
Additionally, the Government has announced changes in Council Tax benefit. Across Rother, around £9 million is currently spent on Council Tax benefit and this is wholly funded by Government. In future, the Government funding will be reduced by 10 per cent and this will have to be managed locally. The proposed changes will help meet the shortfall in funding.
Cllr Robin Patten, Rother District Council member for finance, said: “Unfortunately it’s not only a case of the council becoming more efficient.
“We have made huge savings already and have reduced staffing levels dramatically - despite being one of the lowest staffed councils around in the first place. We are doing everything we can to drive down costs.”
You can tell the council what you think by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or writing to; Draft Budget Consultation, Head of Finance, Rother District Council, Town Hall, Bexhill, East Sussex TN39 3JX