Thanet council has approved its budget for the next financial year of 1 April 2024 to 31 March 2025.
The authority’s revenue expenditure budget for the coming year is £23.457million, a £2.045m increase compared to the 2023/24 budget.
The agreed budget includes investment in open spaces and public areas, with funding for additional street cleansers, graffiti cleaning, playground maintenance and replacement.
At a Full Council meeting last night (February 8), councillors also approved fees and charges for the next financial year.
Increases in key areas such as parking, green waste collection and the crematorium are capped to 5%. Fees and charges were originally proposed to rise by an average of 8%, based on anticipated inflation rates when the draft budget was published.
Amendment for parking permits
An amendment proposed at the meeting to freeze the charge for on-street residential parking permits was approved.
It was put forward by Cllr Marc Rattigan, who said: “Resident parking permit charges should be frozen until the parking review had been completed. Not putting blame on either administration but the time this has taken is certainly not through the fault of residents with residents struggling financially and more expense to local residents may be the final nail in the coffin.”
Cllr Rob Yates Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, said: “In the current economic climate, I’m very pleased that it has been possible to achieve a balanced budget for the forthcoming financial year. It’s never an easy process, requiring months of delicate negotiation, and an unwavering attention to detail. I must express my sincere thanks to everyone that has been involved in getting us to this point.
“We believe this is a compassionate, progressive budget, that is focused on the services that residents have been calling out for. The budget includes funding for cleaner and safer streets, increasing provision of council houses and homelessness accommodation, playing our part to reach net zero, ending the use of glyphosate weedkiller, and supporting our regeneration team with additional resource so that we can deliver on our exciting regeneration projects. And this is on top of the £1.25m we have already committed to reopening and refurbishing toilets around the district.
“This financial year the approved budget means that spending on local services is increasing by £2.2m (9%). Given inflation, it is costing more to deliver the same services than it did a year ago and we have had to allow for the funding of this.
“We’re still experiencing a lot of pressure on services that we cannot control the demand for, in particular in housing and homelessness support, but we are proud of the focus we are putting into this area. Our plan will reduce our dependence on the private housing sector by acquiring or building 400 new council homes by the end of 2027.
“As is the case with many local councils up and down the country, our budgets are a delicate balancing act between the need to cover the cost of services with an understanding that fees and charges need to remain affordable. We’ve done everything we can to keep increases to a minimum but with high inflation they are a necessary factor in our ability to continue to provide more for local people.”
Council Tax is to increase by 3%, a £7.64 increase per year for households in Council Tax band D.
Thanet council receives 12p in every £1 of Council Tax paid by residents of Thanet.
For an average Band D property making ten monthly payments of £207, Thanet council receives around £25 per payment month. The rest goes to other local public sector organisations: Kent County Council (70.6%), Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, Kent Fire & Rescue, and Town and Parish Councils.
An extra £180,000 to tackle weed clearance and graffiti and a one-off allocation of £50,000 to support working with the community to maximise participation in active sports and to improve the pitches at Jackey Bakers and elsewhere.
Plans include employing three full time equivalent Open Spaces staff over a two year period, also creating capacity for additional graffiti cleaning within the Minor Works team.
A £35k investment will be made for an additional vehicle for the service and there is a proposal to employ two further graffiti cleaning operatives in 2024/25.
An additional £100k will be used to fund Hot Foam weed control after concerns were raised about the use of Glyphosate. The hot foam equipment can also be used to clean graffiti and chewing gum from walls and pavements.
A £30,000 budget for playground maintenance.
A £168,000 spend to create six new street cleansing operative posts, meaning an increase in permanent staffing in this area of 26%.
Resident Engagement £11k – Allocation to continue using the new online engagement platform ‘Your Voice Thanet’
Member Casework Delivery Officer £33k – One additional full time equivalent post for improved coordination of councillor casework and responding to ward queries.
Pay awards – A 5.75% pay award costing approximately £1.075m.
Port and Harbour Dredging £180k – The dredging budget has been reduced over several years to the point where the port and harbour cannot complete adequate dredging operations to maintain safe access to the port and harbour.
Port and Harbour Maintenance £50k – Maintenance contract with approved lock gate operator for 6 monthly/ annual inspections and maintenance on lock gates and bascule bridge.
Fees and Charges
Fees and charges were originally proposed to rise by an average of 8%, based on anticipated inflation rates when the draft budget was published. However, it is now approved to limit increases in key areas such as parking, green waste collection and the crematorium to 5% or less.
Maritime – Inflation based increases in charges for this service area should generate a further £164k.
Parking – A reduced increase of approximately 5% is proposed and council revenues are expected to increase by approximately £150k.
Garden Waste – A 5% increase, council income increase by a further £15k
Crematorium – Increases of between 0 and 5%.
Waste Bin replacement – Proposed increase in charge for replacement bins is 5%. A review is due to be held.
Planning – £260k of additional income expected to be retained following increase in nationally set planning fees
The Margate Town Deal, Ramsgate and Margate Levelling Up schemes and Ramsgate High Street Fund (total funds of £51m)
Housing Assistance Policy (including Disabled Facilities Grants) £3m per annum grant funded.
Vehicle & Equipment Replacement Programme – £10.960m over four years, including budget provision for electrification of refuse collection vehicles.
Property Enhancement Programme – £1.250m over 4 year programme to allow for capital enhancement to corporate property estate.
End User Computing Refresh of Devices & IT Infrastructure – £0.740m over four years
Ramsgate Port – Berth 1 Refurbishment – £300k
Royal Harbour Multi-Storey Car Park – £3m in 2025/26 for the purchase of this site (which the council currently leases),
Homelessness Accommodation (phase 2) – The total size of this capital project is £2.2m, of which £1.2m is profiled for 2024/25 (funded from borrowing).
2 FTE planning posts at a cost of £124k, funded from planning income
1FTE new Private Sector Housing Projects Officer £50kpa
1 FTE new Public Health Agenda Officer within Regulatory Services, initially for a 3 year fixed term contract (£117k total)
2 posts (1 FTE) procurement £80k
The council’s budget is agreed in January each year, with final decisions taken by the full council in early February. The approved budget is then implemented in April at the start of the new financial year.
Since 2010, the council has seen a 60% reduction in funding from central government. In real terms this represents around £8million in cuts.