Thanet council budget proposals include 10 new street cleaners and public toilet refurbishments

Council leader Rick Everitt says there are challenges due to falling government grants

Employing 10 new permanent staff to improve street cleaning, taking on a new climate change officer and reversing plans to cut spending on public toilets and invest in a refurbishment programme instead are some of the proposals being made in Thanet council’s 2020/21 budget.

There are also plans to build at least 40 new council houses, increase council tax on long-term empty homes, increase the levels of recycling and upgrade the fire safety measures in all of Thanet’s high rise blocks.

Some £400,000 has also been added to the budget for homelessness.

To help fund services TDC plans to increase its element of council tax by £4.95 – equating to a weekly rise of around 10p  for an average Band D property.

Budget challenges

The report, which will be discussed at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday (January 14), sets out the council’s financial position for the year ahead and how it will allocate the £17.1 million budget pot to fund services during April 2020 – March 2021.

The budget pot is made up from council tax, fees and charges, retained business rates and Government funding.

Thanet council faces a budget black hole of upwards of £1.5 million. The shortfall comes amid plunging income from Government. The Revenue Support Grant to Thanet from central government was £97,000 for the 2019-20 financial year. In 2018-19 it was £809,000 and in 2017-18 the grant stood at £1.446m. This is compared to £6.636m in 2013-14.

A one year settlement of £100,000 has been made for 2020-21. Plans to end the government revenue support grant from 2020 have now been rolled forward to 2021.

Cabinet members will consider a series of suggestions for increasing income and for making savings.

Council leader Rick Everitt said: ”Despite significant funding reductions in recent years, the council is continuing to consolidate its financial position. We now get almost no Revenue Support Grant from central government, which means we have had to deliver our services with less and less help each year.

“Given the real challenges that many of our residents face that is particularly difficult for this council, but we have still produced a balanced draft budget. I’d like to thank officers and members for all of their work to achieve this and for identifying savings which neither provide a need for compulsory redundancies, nor adversely impact on the priority services we provide for local people.”

Plans for £730,000 of savings include scrapping the Waste & Recycling Education Officer post and the Open Spaces supervisor post and a predicted increase in green waste collections and income from fees and charges.

Cabinet Member for Finance, Cllr Rob Yates added: “Cabinet has taken a fresh look at the council’s finances and is proposing a forward looking budget that we hope addresses the needs of the residents, whilst putting in place a plan for growth in public services.

“Key wins include a new Climate Change Officer, 10 new permanent staff to improve street cleansing, plans to build at least 40 new council houses, increasing Council Tax on long-term empty homes, plans to refurbish multiple public toilets and increasing the levels of recycling. We hope that this budget will be supported cross party as it aims to invest in Thanet, improve our services and best support our community for the future.”

Thanet District Council receives 13p in every £1 of council tax. The remainder goes to: Kent County Council, Kent Police, Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, Kent Fire and Rescue Service and Town/Parish Councils.

Following the Cabinet meeting, the draft budget will be presented to the Overview and Scrutiny Panel for comment on Tuesday, January 21 and then go to Full Council on Thursday, February 6 for final approval, before implementation from 1 April 2020.