Chichester district set for 5p weekly council tax rise

East Pallant House
East Pallant House

COUNCIL tax is set to rise in the Chichester district for another year to keep the books balanced.

A band D property in the district will see its annual payment to the council rise by £2.62, which cabinet members said equated to roughly 5p per week.

Speaking at the cabinet meeting this morning (February 4), cabinet member for finance Tony Dignum said of the council’s 2014/15 spending plans: “It’s balanced and it does reflect £1.6m of savings that we agreed to apply in order to balance our budget.”

The council said it had been forced to make an increase in the face of a reduction in government funding of £637,000 for the new financial year.

At the meeting, councillors emphasised the increase was for the benefit of residents in the Chichester district.

Leader of the council Heather Caird said Cllr Dignum and his team had done an ‘extraordinary job’ in making ‘very diligent use of our money’.

“We’re still delivering a fantastic range of services at a very high quality,” she told the meeting, adding the council was able to better look after vulnerable people.

“It will protect more of our services and people in the community realise what we’re trying to do and I think they support us in that,” she said.

Deputy leader Myles Cullen described the reduction in government grants as the ‘driver for much of our overall strategy and thinking’.

He said when comparing the 5p increase to the grant reduction, it spoke ‘very strongly’ of efficiency savings made by the council.

Cllr Dignum added of the tax increase: “We’re only clawing back a tenth. The rest is being found through economies and other changes.”

Cabinet unanimously backed the move, which if approved by full council will see the net budget requirement for the new financial year set at £13,217,600.

The cabinet also approved a ‘minor increase’ in the staffing budget, with two new planning policy posts being incorporated into the base budget with effect from January, 2015, at a cost of 2014/15 and a further £43,000 in 2015/16.

Additionally, a Careline support post has been approved on a temporary basis to March, 2015, at a cost of £22,000.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Dignum said: ““We know people are continuing to dig deep to cope and we are demonstrating key efficiencies to help ease that pain.”

The rise looks set to be finalised at a full meeting of the district council on Tuesday, March 4.