Ashford Borough Council to increase council taxPublished: 13/03/2023
Ashford Borough Council is facing some significant budget challenges over the coming years, as outlined in their recent budget report to Full Council.
The economic landscape over the past year has resulted in high inflation, increasing interest rates and a cost of living crisis. This is a time of increased costs for residents, businesses within the borough, and Ashford Borough Council which is not protected from these external factors.
For the Council the economic pressures have led to a budgeted deficit of £1.45m for the 2023/24 budget, and £10m over the next 5 years. While the pressure for 2023/24 can be funded from reserves, the Council will need to make savings and difficult funding choices will need to be made.
With such a significant change in economic and financial conditions since the inception of the 2022/24 Corporate Plan, the Council will need to re-focus on delivering essential services and ensure the borough’s residents and businesses are receiving value for money as well as review its non-statutory functions.
Members have approved the budget for the 2023/24 financial year, and agreed to increase Council Tax by £5 per year for an average band D Property. This increase will help to ensure we can continue to deliver value for money services to the residents and businesses of Ashford. The budget paper included a number of high level savings plans, and Council agreed for officers to start to develop these plans to deliver the savings required.
Although Ashford Borough Council collects your council tax it is shared out between ABC, Kent County Council, Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, Kent Fire and Rescue and Parish Councils. In fact, we receive just 9 pence out of every £1 you pay, as you can see from the chart below the greatest share goes to Kent County Council.
Here are some examples of how your payment to Ashford Borough Council is spent:
- Weekly food waste and refuse or recycling collection
- Keeping streets clean and emptying public bins, deter and prosecute environmental crimes, such as fly tipping
- Provide and maintain playgrounds and support wider leisure facilities
- Support those homeless or at risk of becoming homeless through advice and support
- Promote the delivery of projects for the future economic growth of the borough
- Grants, funding for community projects, support for the voluntary and community sector
- Maintain a local development plan to ensure development is made in a strategic manner within designated sites
- Electoral services, including voter registration
- Youth and arts services (including cultural and town centre events)
- Public health duties, including food hygiene inspections of commercial properties
- Our communications channels (our websites, social media, telephone and face-to-face customer services)
Cllr Neil Shorter, Portfolio holder for Finance and IT, said: “In meeting the challenges of the current financial climate it has been necessary to combine an increase in council tax as well as review how we may be able to make savings whilst maintaining crucial services.
“The Council has a proven track record of delivering, and through digitalisation, transformation and new projects that bring growth to the borough, and financial returns to the Council, I am comfortable that this budget is deliverable, and more importantly the savings required will be identified, programmed in a timely manner, and delivered.
“The administration, together with officers, has created an entrepreneurial culture since the withdrawal of revenue grant funding from central government some eight years ago and we intend to maintain this approach to “earning” our own money to both enable residents to enjoy this income as well as regenerating the borough. This requires maintaining a capability within the officer core so that opportunities can be taken and that we are “fleet of foot” in this regard.”