Rising charges and council tax plus new CCTV and enforcement staff planned in Thanet council’s 2023/24 budget

Finances

Investment in new CCTV and coastal enforcement staff and repairs for key council properties, an average 10% rise in fees and charges – including parking- and a 2.9% rise in council tax are some of the items included in Thanet council’s 2023/24 budget.

Cabinet members will discuss the financing of the year ahead at a meeting next week.

A report to councillors highlights rising costs due to inflation pressures but also a budget increase from £17.902m for this financial year (2022/23) up to £21.412m for 2023/24, which represents a £3.510m or 19.6% increase in spending on services.

The report says: “The next year’s budget has been developed in a relatively unstable macroeconomic environment; inflation is at a 40 year high, resulting in increased cost pressures for both the council and our core stakeholders such as the district’s residents, local businesses and the council’s service users.

“In budgetary terms these pressures are being realised directly through increased unit costs for items such as energy, fuel and utilities, alongside inflation linked contractual cost increases and also the need to agree a fair and affordable pay offer for staff. In addition to the increased costs for service provision, the macroeconomic environment is also resulting in increased demand for some of our services, most notably temporary accommodation for homelessness.”

The council budget is made up of government funding, council tax, fees and charges and retained business rates.

Council tax

Council is expected to agree a 2.99% increase in the Band D equivalent, equal to a £7.42 increase per year or an extra 14p per week.

Council tax discounts will remain unchanged for 2023/24.

‘Long Term Empty Premium’ for properties that have been left empty and substantially unfurnished remains at -for periods of 2 years but less than 5 years, a Long Term Empty Premium to be charged at 100%; and for periods of 5 years but less than 10 years, a Long Term Empty Premium to be charged at 200%; and  for periods of 10 years or more a Long Term Empty Premium to be charged at 300%

Thanet council receives around 12p in every £1 of Council Tax. The remainder goes to Kent County Council; Kent Police and Crime Commissioner; Kent Fire and Rescue Service and Town/Parish councils.

Fees and charges

Fees and charges are based on a broad 10% increase, which is expected to generate additional income of around £0.610m – this excludes Selective Licensing and On Street Parking.

A full parking review is due to be carried from April 2024, but in the meantime current parking charges would be increased by 10% or alternatively a comparable increase at each location so that is rounded to the nearest 10p.

The council report says: “Due to the high inflation environment that we are operating in, the council has seen a substantial increase in its own running costs and the cost of the services that it provides, including but not limited to an increase in fuel, energy and expected staffing costs.

“The council’s services are funded from a broad range of income streams, with fees and charges being just one means of financing.

“However, other sources of income have reduced or restricted in recent years, such as income from council tax and government grants. For instance, the council has limited discretion to vary council tax, with increases limited to the higher of £5 or 2.99%. Government funding has also reduced significantly over the past decade.

“Given these income restrictions and the need to balance the budget, locally generated sources of income such as fees and charges are even more important than ever and should be considered and treated as commercially as possible in order to optimise these income streams. It is important the council organises itself and invests in ways that maximise that income, whilst balancing this with managing the impact on our residents and service users.”

Parking charges have been reviewed and increased by 10% where possible, or alternatively a comparable increase at each location so that is rounded to the nearest 10p. This is expected to increase budget contribution for Off Street parking by £95k.

The finances associated with On-Street parking are managed separately and income is ring-fenced to a separate earmarked account, so whilst the changes in fees will result in total annual income increasing by £100k it cannot be used for the general fund budget.

Cabinet will review the potential to introduce car parking discounts for residents as part of a new parking strategy review. It is expected that the strategy will be published in June 2023.

Temporary Accommodation

Spend of £0.800m earmarked. The report says: “Homelessness has grown as a challenge for many local authorities over the last year or so, Thanet included. There are additional pressures on Housing Services as the gap between supply and demand increases.”

Council housing rent

Rent rises are capped at 7%. The proposed increase across the whole stock means an average rent is £94.84, this is an average increase of £6.20p per property per week.

Tenant service charge increases continue to be capped at £3 a week.

Staff pay

Pay awards – A 4% pay award has been assumed in the budget estimates and this pay-offer has been communicated with unions, the cost of this award is approximately £0.700m. This is in addition to a total 3% award in 2022/23, which wasn’t included in the 2022/23 budget. Cumulatively this results in an £880k pay pressure for the 2023/24 budget.

The exception to the average increase in pay are the lowest graded roles that are paid at the New Living Wage rate which will increase by 9.7% from 1 April 2023, an increase of 92p per hour, taking the rate to £10.42 per hour

Service Investment

Property Repairs and Maintenance £0.800m – The council holds £0.800m in its repairs and maintenance earmarked reserve and it is proposed to contribute this to the general fund revenue budget for 2023/24, in order to invest in  corporate assets and infrastructure.

Coastal Enforcement £168k – It is proposed to create five new enforcement posts (Coastal Environmental Officers), providing resources for the enforcement of the Public Space Protection Orders. This will aid the district in maintaining the Blue Flag and Seaside Awards and protecting the coastal environment for the community and visitors.

Seaweed £45k – Additional resources to allow for extra seaweed collections from Thanet beaches have been included in the draft budget.

Coastal Cleansing £10k – It is proposed that a further £10k be allocated to this budget each year over the medium term. For 2023/24 this additional funding will be used for additional and improved signs to warn and inform on the risks of slips and falls on slipways and steps to the foreshore.

Technical Services and Grounds Maintenance £70k – Additional staffing resources for these two service areas have been included in the draft budget. The joint management of these services is currently being considered as part of a Corporate Management Team restructure consultation.

Climate Change £40k – A two year fixed term Climate Change Coordinator role to be created to assist the Climate Change Officer to deliver the council’s Net Zero strategy.

CCTV £45k – It is proposed to invest an extra £60k in the service, with £15k being charged to the Housing Revenue Account and return staffing levels back to pre-2022 levels. This will allow for two additional CCTV officers to be appointed, leading to an increase in active monitoring and control room coverage.

HR £57k – Additional staffing resources be provided for the HR function.

Visitor Information Services £13k – It is proposed to reverse a previous budget saving proposal, and to provide relatively modest levels of resources to maintain current levels of visitor information service provision.

Communications £24k – Additional staffing resources for the Communications function have been included in the draft budget. This will allow the creation of an additional Communications Officer and aid the council’s ambitions to drive more proactive communications

Other ‘self-funding’ investment

Property (£0.625m) – Restructure of the Property & Estates Team, with additional staff roles funded from an increase in rental income and the reallocation of some salary costs to capital projects.

Legal (£50k) – Additional staffing resources for legal services, primarily for property related activities and to be funded from an increase in property income.

Planning (£37k) – It is proposed to introduce a Section 106 monitoring charge in all planning obligations and legal agreements, with the additional income used to fund a full time Planning Obligations officer role to record and monitor Section 106 agreements.

Coastal (£11k) – The council is seeking to enter into a concession agreement for Margate tidal pool, with the corresponding income to be used to fund supervisory activities during peak season.

Private Sector Housing (£59k) – This proposal moves two existing and occupied posts from an unfunded position to being funded from costs expected to be recovered from the recent successful prosecution in this area and then from future selective licensing income on an ongoing basis..

Regeneration (£46k) – An additional Economic Development Officer role has been included in the draft budget. It is proposed that this role is wholly funded from a proportion of income council receives from the Kent Business Rate pool

Key changes to services:

Bulky Waste – Replace single price with a new pricing structure per individual item to “benefit customers who only have for example one smaller item. It is also expected this will help to reduce fly tipping.”

Green Garden Waste – Increase the annual fee from £55 to £65

Crematorium – All fees have been reviewed and increased at various levels with some more than the 10% target to reflect changes in customer demands and cost bases.

Planning – Pre-planning advice fees have been increased at various levels, with some more than the 10% target. For example, the charges for major developments have increased by up to 46%, whereas minor developments have seen relatively lower increases.

Allotments – Fees have been increased for the first time in 3 years.

Filming – Minimum charges have been increased, for example the filming fee for productions with crews of 75 or more people increasing by 50% from £1,000 to £1,500.

Port and Harbours – Charges have been reviewed and increased by 10%, making a significant budgetary contribution to fees and charges of £244k.

Income includes an estimated £100k from commercial property rents, £40k from increased planning application services, £25k from restructuring the Financial Services team and £400k increase due to interest earned on  council investments

Refinancing of Your Leisure Loans will result in an expected saving of  £160k.

Capital projects include:

Thanet council’s capital projects include a £51m programme over four years after successful bids to government for the Levelling Up Fund projects in Margate and Ramsgate and the Margate Town Deal.

Margate Levelling Up Fund – £6.3m for the Margate Digital campus.

Ramsgate Levelling Up Fund – £19.84m, with £14.0m currently programmed to be spent in 2023/24. Funding for investment in the port, a new green campus building to provide a centre for excellence for operations and maintenance including a training and low carbon business centre, development of the smack boys building into a hotel, improvements to fishing facilities, development of the clock house, new public realm at pier yard square and improvements to community space.

Margate Town Deal – £20.35m, with £7.750m currently programmed to be spent between 2023/24 and 2025/26. This scheme is for the creation of the Creative Land Trust, invest in the Theatre Royal, a programme to reinvigorate and provide new wellbeing infrastructure at key sites, improving links between key areas of the town and enhancing the Dreamland site.

Ramsgate Future High Street Fund – £2.7m, with £0.916m currently programmed to be spent in 2023/24. This scheme is for creative workspace and highway improvements.

Housing Assistance Policy (including Disabled Facilities Grants) £3m per annum rolling programme

Vehicle & Equipment Replacement Programme – £4.5m over four years, the size of the scheme has been increased significantly to include budget provision for electrification of refuse collection vehicles..

Property Enhancement Programme – £1m over 4 year programme to allow for capital enhancement to corporate property estate.

Homelessness Accommodation (Phase 2) 2023-24 and 2024-25. £2,220,000. The further provision of temporary accommodation to meet the needs of homeless people.

How the budget is funded

Central Government funding of:

Revenue Support Grant (RSG) £358k – RSG is a non-ring fenced grant that can be used for any purpose and TDC will receive £358k in 2023/24.

3% Funding Guarantee £227k – This grant is being introduced in 2023/24 and as its name suggests is provided to ensure authorities receive at least a 3% increase in their Core Spending Power. 5.12.

Services Grant £196k – This grant was introduced in 2022/23 as a one-off grant to be distributed to every authority in the country. Previous consultation made it very clear that this was a one-off grant, however it has continued on to 2023/24 despite this. The grant has been reduced by £152k compared to 2022/23

New Homes Bonus £415k – The Council will receive a bonus of £415k in 2023/24

The council has included £8.060m in next year’s budget from business rates related income

Council tax of around £11,631,000 and fees and charges income.

Cabinet Member for Finance, Councillor David Saunders, said: “With unprecedented levels of inflation impacting on running costs such as fuel, utilities and staffing, uncertain levels of government funding and restrictions around increases in Council Tax, local councils have become more reliant than ever on locally generated sources of income such as fees and charges.

“In order to run the efficient services our customers expect, we need to approach the setting of our fees and charges commercially to maximise our income streams and to handle the pressures we face around rising costs.

“Clearly this has to be done in a way which manages the impact on our residents and service users as carefully as possible. To support this a robust review has been undertaken which started in the summer, benchmarking our fees and charges with other areas and exploring whether charges which have remained at the same level for some time, could now be increased.

“My thanks go to the Fees and Charges Cabinet Advisory Group for their suggestions and recommendations as part of this process. It’s critical that we provide an opportunity for Councillors from across the political spectrum to help shape these difficult decisions.”

What happens next

If Cabinet members approve the draft budget it will go to the Overview & Scrutiny Panel on 17 January and any recommendations will be considered by Cabinet on 26 January.

Final approval will go to Full Council on 9 February with council tax proposals approved at Full Council on 23 February.

33 Comments

  1. So, TDC, gets 12p in the pound ,what does KCC,give Thanet in return for their chunk,as Clarkson says diddly squat ,or there abouts,the state of the roads is terrible,that’s down to KCC,what else does,KCC,give us ??? let’s get rid of the Police Commissioner ,what does this person do ,to warrant a high wage expenses ,not doubt at least one Secretary,how much is the top people at KCC earning,plus the expenses

  2. TDC would achieve a great deal more if they actually got their staff back in the office. A recent FOI request revealed that there are only around 50 people actually working from their desks the rest are either work from home or hybrid. Probably goes some way to explaining why so many departments have become so inefficient.

    • Or maybe local authorities have become less efficient due to the fact that they’ve had their funding from central government slashed by more than 50% since 2010.

      • No, the particularly poor service both in time taken to deal with work and the quality of what’s produced is largely the result of being engrossed in their daytime tv of choice, no managers to keep an eye on things, lack of access to information and colleagues. The council took away phone contact for the public due to the number of complaints.
        Look at the recent story about the commercial property department, a rent officer looking after just under 400 properties some of which had no review in 6 years, so 6 x 200 working days divide 400, at least 3 working days per property, where was the oversight and reporting on what was going on.
        Like many public bodies the council exists on a cosy arrangement of not making waves and relying on your own poor performance not being questioned by the council.
        Totally fubar

        • “the particularly poor service both in time taken to deal with work and the quality of what’s produced is largely the result of being engrossed in their daytime tv of choice,”

          What an absolute crock and arguably, projection.

  3. No mention of street cleaning, some road are in a terrible state, also weeds growing up through blocked gully drains that are never cleaned out.

    • We would hold a street party if we saw a road sweeper in my road! Thanet roads are filthy, I have seen cleaner in 3rd world countries!

      • I’ve just spent a couple of days in London, including some rather rough parts, but despite there being trees everywhere, there is NO rotting mulch anywhere. Yet even in the “good” parts of Thanet, the pavements are a nightmare!

  4. Instead of increasing parking charges, why not get officers on the street to stop dangerous illeagel parking. They could make hundreds daily, in my small road, and keep adults and children safer because they will not have to walk on the roads thanks to cars and vans on the pavements.

    • Sue
      Sadly, pavement parking (obstruction of the highway) remains an offence that the police have powers to deal with. TDC enforcement officers would love the opportunity to prevent pavement parking.

  5. Hey, people of Thanet, we don’t care that you’re all struggling with the cost of living crisis. We don’t care that you aren’t getting pay rises (or very small ones) but hope you don’t mind contributing £1.5 million so our staff can get a whopping pay rise plus increments.

    Lots of love.

    Thanet District Council.

    • I don’t think 4% is a whopping pay rise, but I suspect that this HYS will be full of comment, about simple ways of saving money, cutting staff, reducing expenditure etc, etc, etc.
      What I want to know is why this self acknowledged experts are not giving TDC the benefit of their knowledge. It’s no use moaning here, as I doubt if old Carmichael, and the rest of the septuagenarians at TDC are online sufficiently to respond.

      • The 4% quoted is in addition to 3% last year and increments that most staff get every year if they aren’t at the top of their grade. As taxpayers we are also paying more into their pension funds each year and this contribution rises as their pay rises.

        Pay is only part of the problem. If you look at the report, TDC admit that they are increasing spending by 19.6% compared to last year. This is despite inflation being approximately half of this. The “savings” identified from TDC services are pretty non existent.

        TDC are increasing spend by almost 20% at a time of economic crisis when the people (residents) are going to have to pay for it as well as struggle with their own household finances.

        This budget is completely tone deaf to the current economic climate and completely unsympathetic to the needs and circumstances of their residents.

        You say about giving them the benefit of our knowledge and expertise. 54% of residents replying to the survey said clean streets were a priority. This has been completely ignored in this budget. Just more staff for support services. So what’s the point ?

        • Thanetian Blind your figures are wrong, I and my colleagues got a pay rise of 1.5% in April 22, and many years has been less than that. As for 4% in 2024, we’ve heard nothing about that, and I doubt it will happen. Probably the 4% rise is for the Bigwigs at the dizzy top?

          • Well if my figures are wrong then the figures in the TDC budget report due to be approved by Cabinet are also wrong as they are directly lifted from there.

    • aka “we want pay rises for the CoL, but they’re not allowed them because my ideology trumps logical consistency”.

      Fixed that for you.

    • Be interesting to see where the proposed actual cctv will be, from the part about the Housing revenue account contributing 15k i’d guess much of the extra effort will be going into monitoring the tdc tower blocks.

  6. More CCTV is good definitely need enforcement officers to get out and about with giving tickets to dangerous parking that restricts emergency vehicles and puts the public at risk and street cleaners need to have their numbers increased.

    • Shall we just let the yobs get away with their crimes, then?
      CCTV is an important law enforcement tool these days and with a serious lack of police around using the Mk1 eyeball how else are these s**ts supposed to be brought to book?
      Get real – unless you are happy to let them carry on with no prospect of being caught for theirs, and others’, crimes.

      • “CCTV is an important law enforcement tool these days and with a serious lack of police around using the Mk1 eyeball how else are these s**ts supposed to be brought to book?”

        Someone doesn’t understand the “no face, no case” legal loophole.

  7. What can tdc residents do ? we have to pay up We have no choice we are doomed.

    The extended charge for cremation is not welcome, so sad so not welcome ave linked the new charges for death to group of stage comedians!
    Tdc comedy on tour, watch this space

  8. green bin collections going up from £55 to £65 (18 percent increase) is counter productive, less people will use the service which in turn is bad for the environment

    • We stopped using the green bin service as it was more a hinderance because after paying £55 for it they hardly ever emptied the bin. We were unable to report missed bins online as our address was not listed on their website portal even after several promises it would be sorted, then waiting ages for someone to answer the phone every two weeks to tell us they would return but often they didn’t. It was really not worth all the hassel to get it emptied. They can put the price up as that will discourage even more from recycling now.

  9. Well there’s one good idea here at least…
    “ Coastal (£11k) – The council is seeking to enter into a concession agreement for Margate tidal pool, with the corresponding income to be used to fund supervisory activities during peak season.”

  10. Bring the Council tax fees down by getting rid of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent. A huge percent goes to him but nothing different ever comes of policing. It is at the worst it has ever been under his management.

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