Over the last year or so I have blogged about the constantly reducing grant funding to EHDC from the government and our plans to cope with this. Many Councils have responded by cutting services to save costs and to date EHDC have not cut any of our services – and have no plans to do so despite our funding being significantly lower than it was. In fact our revenue support grant we expect will be Nil by 2020.
East Hants District Council costs around £12 Million a year to run. For this we get a number of direct services like weekly bin collections, street lighting provided and paid for and our verges cut. We administer planning, enforcement, Revenue & Benefits and dog wardens. In fact over the last few years we have spending more money on these to improve the services we offer, not cutting them.
We have also spent money funding 3 new PCSO’s, ANPR cameras and other funding outside of our statutory remit to support The Police and help address some local concerns on visibly policing and catching criminals.
In the last few years we have invested in new business activities at EHDC and also property acquisitions. This has led to us being able to fund our 2016 / 2017 budget by £1,000,000 worth of income from our own investments – the first time we have been able to do so. This income will progressively increase over the next 3 year period to the point where we have fully compensated for the reducing government grant income – and the 5 years after this to have increased our income enough to have reduced our share of the Council Tax to zero.
Currently a Band D property pays £137.33 a year to East Hants for the services we provide and in 9 years time (2024) this will reduce to Zero. This means that bin collections and other services will be free.
No other Council has plans to achieve this.
At last nights cabinet meeting we made our first step towards this by REDUCING our share of Council Tax by 2%. The first step of many with the next ones becoming progressively larger.
The LGC (Local Government Chronicle) advises that most Councils are looking to raise Council Tax by 1.99% – the maximum allowable without a local referendum – and reports that EHDC is THE ONLY Council in the UK that they are aware of that is proposing a decrease this year.
The plans will be heard at Full Council on the 25th February 2016 ready for the next financial year.