Thanet council approves ‘progressive budget’ for year ahead

Finances

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.”

Budget breakdown

Council Tax

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.

Service spend

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

Capital projects

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).

Additional staffing

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.

47 Comments

  1. How on earth can anyone class it as a balanced budget when the current year budget is estimated to be overspent by £1m ?

    It’s built on sand like every budget before it.

    £168k for “new” street cleaners compared to over £1m for a staff pay rise will tell you everything there is to know about the Labour Administration.

    Don’t forget, these are the same Councillors who voted themselves a backdated 10% allowance increase shortly after taking office.

    Priorities ?

    • Oh dear – I guess you’ve never worked in a large business.
      The budget used for staff salaries isn’t just based on what they’re paid. It takes into account overheads such as pensions, the equipment they’ll, the electricity they’ll consume and even the office space they’ll occupy.
      It all costs money.

      …and yes – priorities.

      People want clean streets.
      They want graffiti sorted out.
      They want more council houses.

      It’s clear to me that this budget works towards achieving these priorities.

      • The base staff budget is based on all of those things. Increases in salary calculations exclude all of those elements unless staff suddenly use more electricity, office space, IT equipment etc when they get paid more.

        Economists are predicting inflation to fall to 2% in the next financial year yet TDC are giving staff a pay rise of almost three times that ?

        To revert to my original point, spending over £1m on staff pay increases compared to £168k on street cleaners is an insult.

        • If you have a look around, you might notice that there’s been a cost of living crisis in this country for the last two years.
          Wages haven’t kept up with the rate of inflation over the last few years and even if inflation falls – it’s still a sign of life becoming more expensive.
          Council workers are very often those in the lowest paid jobs, who will be bearing the brunt of an economy on its knees.
          Giving them a modest payrise to sweep our streets, take our rubbish away and maintain our open spaces is the least the council can do.

        • Why is it insane ? Workers have s right to be paid a decent wage. Why should their standard of living down because you want a graffiti removing machine

        • ‘Ecomonomists’ maybe predicting a 2% inflation figure next year, but that’s on top of a 10%+ two years ago and 7%+ this year. So in 3 years prices have gone up over 19%+ over the samebperiod (including this pay rise? Pay has gone up 9.75% so a real reduction in pay of over 10%!

  2. No mention of the Madeira Waterfall in Ramsgate which has been out of action for years and looks an eyesore.
    It is part of the Destiny Memorial.
    This iconic site should now be a priority as TDC / RTC claim that Tourism is important for Thanet.
    I noticed no mention of other derelict sites either, all tinkering around the edges again.

    • What a daft comment.
      You get that Thanet is a big place right?
      What it means is that your street will be swept more often than previously.

      • How much “previously” do you want? 20 years ago it WAS swept weekly. Even in the recessions of the 70s & 80s, street cleaning and public toilets were ALWAYS priority for councils – until they started funded funfairs owned by off-shore companies that is!

        • Or, until they lost 60% of their central funding in a decade.

          Time comparisons are only relevant if you factor in the budget frameworks and economy at the time; when Councils see continuous reductions in funding, it is no surprise whatsoever that statutory functions struggle.

          However, I’m rather proud of everyone involved in this one, and think it’s an exceptionally strong budget, considering the national funding constraints.

          • Are you also proud of the fact that TDC have hiked their Council Tax to the maximum amount allowed by law, allocated £1m to an inflation busting pay rise whilst many low paid workers across the area struggle with far lower pay rises ? Average pay rises across the nation are forecast to be much lower than 5.75%.

            I guess I know the answer given you were instrumental in paying yourself a 10% increase in allowances this financial year. It’s clear that the Unions are running the show and I dread to think what might happen if Labour get control of the national finances this year.

          • Not good enough. Clean streets, empty bins and open public toilets all year round should be your number one priority.

  3. I drive down Northdown Road every morning and am very impressed at how clean the streets are being kept. A great improvement and the staff should be congratulated on their dedication to start at such early hours to improve the quality of our lives. No complaints here for this spending. Like all in public sector positions for the role they do, they are underpaid. Lets hope Ms. Pink is not expected to make a contribution to society as actions are better than poorly thought out words.

  4. Let’s hope that the pet waste bins which were removed last year now get replaced. Some parks do not have any. Many streets have had them removed.

  5. Fortunately for everyone, the vast majority of that is incorrect or misleading.

    Council workers do often extremely challenging roles, and perform vital services. Considering the level of inflation, I fail to see how the pay increase could be in any way viewed as excessive. Valuing workers, especially those in essential service roles, is inportant; and working to alleviate the cost of living crisis is important.

    Council tax has not been “hiked”; for a Band D property, it is the equivalent of 15 pence per week, and households on lower incomes, single person households, or those with significant vulnerabilities already have access to discounts on Council tax.

    And although we’ve already covered this thoroughly, no, it was not a 10% increase in one year, as the reality is that TDC allowances had not been raised in over a decade; so the actual equivalent is an under 1% raise per year, to try to ensure that being a Councillor is accessible to people from all backgrounds, rather than frequently just being the preserve of retired men.

    Nothing against retired men, however; it’s just that it’s pretty obvious that a representative democracy should be representative.

    • I may have this wrong but are TDC Councillors also now in line to get a 5.75% allowance rise for the next financial year to match staff pay which will be added to the 10% allowance increase for last year ?

  6. “Clean streets, empty bins and open public toilets all year round should be your number one priority.”

    Did you read the budget? Because the above very much implies that you didn’t.

    • Not priority enough. Otherwise my street would be swept more than once a year… when I chase them up via my local cllr. Stop funding vanity projects.

      What are your thoughts on Turner Contemporary not wanting to charge an entrance fee?

  7. The usual suspects on here are just fuming the Labour controlled council have come up with a fair and balance budget that protects services, creates jobs and builds new social housing, all this during a cost of living crisis when many other struggling councils are having to do the exact opposite due to the last 14 years of Tory mismanagement.

  8. I’ve been looking at the TDC website, and can’t find how often our streets are (in theory) swept at present. Does anyone here know? Thanks.

  9. In the above

    Property Enhancement Programme- is it safe to assume it is in relation to

    https://theisleofthanetnews.com/2022/12/03/two-hundred-council-owned-commercial-properties-without-current-leases-and-more-than-1million-needed-for-huge-repairs-backlog/

    If so , should the works not be done asap in order to reduce the losses from rents and leases that are currently unenforceable as well as reducing the extent of inflation on the expenditure? ( the councils commercial property situation that can hardly be blamed on austerity, who had oversight for this department?)

    The costs for the homeless accomodation, i assume refer to the old Oasis building , which it has been previously reported will be turned into council housing in the future. How much of these costs is covered by the HRA and if they are outside this will the HRA be purchasing the building at the full cost of initial purchase , lending and works done to the building as and when it transfers to the housing department?

    Again within the housing budget have the works and costs relating to Royal crescent been completed and all bills settled , if so where leaseholders have opted for a charge against their properties, how has the million or so been accounted for and again has this been contained within the HRA? ( again how on earth did costs of this size manage to accrue and who should have been on top of this?)

    https://theisleofthanetnews.com/2021/04/29/thanet-cabinet-members-agree-to-measures-for-2-7million-repair-works-at-royal-crescent-and-for-recharging-to-leaseholders/

    What has been decided in respect of Jackie Bakers and its facilities and the previous sugestion of using some of the land for council housing?

  10. If Ms Pink was having her street swept 20 years ago, that was 2004, if my maths are correct. 7 years into Tony Blair’s government. But perhaps modern history isn’t her strong point. And since Mr Brown left office we’ve had austerity, brexit, a purge on the few competent tory politicians who weren’t loyal enough to brexit nor to the notoriously disloyal Boris Johnson. We’ve had the cumulative results of ill judged and unnecessary privatisations (e.g. sewage in the streets, rivers and sea, all subsidised by us with big chunks of our tax cash going to service ever increasing debt to pay foreign investors), the NHS run into the ground (remember being able to see a GP pre 2010, or not having to wait 12 hours in A&E when your wife’s had a possible TIA? I do). We’ve Truss and Kwarteng’s mini budget causing a run on the pound, interest rate rises and austerity cash strapped councils having to borrow more as a result. Now we’re left with a bunch of venal, incompetent idiots who still aren’t held to account by the majority of the press, nor allowed to be by the emasculated BBC. If Labour do win the next election they’ll not be able to do much as the tories have pretty much destroyed everything beyond redemption, and left a country deeply and bitterly divided. If they have one policy left it’s a scorched earth policy, cut taxes before we go so there’s less room for Labour to do anything without raising them again. But I for one will welcome a few years break from the rotten bunch. Ms Pink can go and lie down in a darkened room with real world, Peter can “pop” on their strait jackets and play them 60s music til they come blinking into the daylight of 2029 and find nice Mr Farage is finally PM..

  11. I think Ms Pink is wonderful; just my type of person. I could be wrong, but I think the Pink bit (sorry!) is used ironically, to disguise her very right wing leanings. And the titular (sorry!) “Ms” is also ironically intended to cover the fact she’s either a misogynistic male who disapproves of lefty feminists, or a real woman like the late and very much missed Clarissa Dickson Wright, who could skin a rabbit while fuming to camera about the fox hunting ban. If the latter, I think she’d make a great model for an artistic book of photographs of ladies snapped in various locations around the local littoral.

  12. So, can of you lot answer the basic question: how often are Thanet’s streets swept at present? If that question can’t be answered, then any supposed “improvements” under Labour can’t be prooved, and is very likely a lie.

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