12 January 2016
Mid Sussex District Council’s Scrutiny Committee for Leader and Service Delivery is set to discuss the 2016/17 draft Corporate Plan and Budget at a meeting on Tuesday 12 January 2016.
The Corporate Plan and Budget for 2016/17 sets out how the Council will deliver its services and use its financial resources in the coming year. It has been created in line with the Mid Sussex District Council’s priorities of providing Better Lives, a Better Environment and Better Services for local people.
In 2016/17, the Council is proposing to invest significantly in its popular Garden Waste Collection scheme to enable more people to benefit from this additional service. There is currently a waiting list of 800 households for the Garden Waste Collection service and this expansion will make the service available to an extra 4,000 households over the next three years.
The Council is proposing to invest in its three leisure centres. This expenditure will be matched by Places for People Leisure, the not for profit organisation that manage the leisure centres on behalf of the Council, and it is anticipated that the first of these improvements will come forward this summer.
Burgess Hill is set for significant expansion over the next few years, becoming one of the 20 most important growth areas the country. The council has set aside £440,000 for 2016/17 to ensure the future development of Burgess Hill is carefully and positively managed. The Council is investing in some key areas in 2016/17 but the current squeeze on local government finances continues to provide significant challenges when it comes to funding council services.
Over the last five years, funding provided to Mid Sussex District Council by the government in the form of Revenue Support Grants has reduced from £6.4 million to £1.67 million and will reduce significantly again this year to £845,000, a drop of 49% in 12 months.
To manage this reduction in grant funding, the Council has strived to save money by keeping a tight control over costs and creating new, more efficient, ways of working. It is a tried and tested approach that has seen Mid Sussex District Council generate savings of £6.8 million over the last nine years while maintaining and improving frontline services for local residents. The government aims to phase out Revenue Support Grants for local councils completely by 2019/2020. As a result, whilst the Council will balance its budget this year (2016/17), there will need to be savings made of £441,000 in 2017/18, £216,000 in 2018/19 and £307,000 in 2019/20.
Mid Sussex District Council has frozen Council Tax for the past five years but a modest increase is required in 2016/17 to offset the continued reduction in government funding. A Council Tax increase of 1.99%, the equivalent of £2.97 per year for an average Band D property, is proposed in the 2016/17 draft Corporate Plan and Budget. It is also recommended that the price of the optional Garden Waste Collection service should increase by £5 to £65 per annum. Parking charges will remain unchanged.
The withdrawal of Revenue Support Grants means it is more important than ever for Mid Sussex District Council to become financially self-sufficient, so it is no longer dependent on government funding. The measures outlined in the 2016/17 Corporate Plan and Budget move the Council much closer to financial independence, ensuring it will be in a significantly stronger position to tackle any further funding challenges.