Council tax and fees to rise in South Kesteven as budgets come under pressure

Community news.
Community news.

Higher council tax, fees and other charges are proposed as South Kesteven looks set to lose £1.2m of “total Resources” over the next four years.

The district council reports budgets are under pressure while it also plans major investments in The Big Clean, Invest SK, plus leisure and the arts.

A report prepared for a councillors’ meeting on Wednesday, says the budgeting process began in August, with councillors attending workshops to set out their priorities.

The report said: “This has resulted in proposed investment of £2.92m in 2018/19 in areas such as The Big Clean, Invest SK and several initiatives to transform the way the council operates.”

The report, approved by cabinet members Adam Stokes and Nick Neilsen, gives SKDC the options of raising its share of the council tax by an average £5 or 3.36 per cent on a band D property, or by three per cent or by freezing the rate.

Wednesday’s meeting of Budget-Joint Overview and Scrutiny committee will hear the proposed increases follow similar £5 increases as part of an efficiency deal from 2016/17 to 2019/20 agreed with Whitehall.

The increases would raise £7.2m in council tax in 2018/19, compared with £6.9m the previous year and a projected £8.1m in 2021/22.

However, business rates income set by central government will fluctuate around £4 million over the period, while Revenue Support Grant from central government, which was £1m in 2017/18 will cease in 2019/20. Money from the New Homes Bonus will drop from £3.3 million in 2017/18 to £1.7m. Overall, ‘Total Resources’ will drop from £15m in 2017/18 to £13.8m in 

The report warned of “a modest decline in resources over the period” and “core funding will reduce in real terms.”

It further warned of extra pressures from the national living wage and other pay rises leading SKDC to “establish a corporate savings target of £300,000.”

The report said SKDC will spend a net £17.161m on services in 2018/19, with £2.29m being spent on “Capacity and Growth bids.”

They include £430,000 on The Big Clean, £800,000 on Invest SK, £350,000 on leisure and the arts, and £1.34m on transformation, commercial and budget pressures.

The report said the council aims to make savings by operating more commercially and operating a commercial waste service.

It continued: “The proposed investment does not include any cost implications of the remodelling of the St Peter’s Hill council offices which will be subject to a separate report of cabinet on February 8.

“The financial implications of the proposal will be incorporated into the budget proposals that are presented to the February meeting.”

The report also noted £4.454m will come from the use of reserves, savings, efficiencies and income generation.

Some £1.96m would come from reserves to fund The Big Clean, festivals, the community and the transformation team. Budget reductions, savings and efficiencies would generate £1.383m by changing staff terms and conditions, increasing vacancies, and spending less on consultants, agency staff and subscriptions. A further £1.111m would also be found from charges on planning fees, green waste collection, car parking and more market stalls. Income would be generated from sharing expertise, ICT platforms and the St Peter’s Hill 

Potential fee increases could include 20 per cent on planning fees to generate £176,000, but market rents would be frozen as previous increases have harmed the viability of markets rather than raise income.

Car parking tariffs have been unchanged since 2010 but are under review, with a report due to be presented at Wednesday’s meeting. Fixed penalty notices for fly-tipping may double from £200 to £400 to act as a deterrent, the report added.