Chancellor’s budget measures have ‘moved problem on to local councils’

Ray Dawe

Ray Dawe

10
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Measures to reduce the national deficit taken by Chancellor George Osborne has simply ‘moved the problem on to local authorities’, Horsham District Council’s leader has suggested.

Reacting to the news that the council would lose all of its remaining £1.6m Revenue Support Grant from central Government in the next two years, Ray Dawe said HDC would need to become ‘totally self-sufficient’.

According to a recent council report it could face a £3.3m net deficit in its revenue budget in the 2019/20 financial year.

Three potential actions listed were introducing a flat £1.50 a day charge on Sundays and bank holidays in Horsham town centre’s car parks, increasing council tax, and collecting general household rubbish bins every fortnight rather than weekly.

Mr Dawe said: “We have one of the lowest council tax levels in the country. At the same time we have been able to maintain a high level of service to our residents.

“However, while we shall persist with trying to find further efficiency savings and minimise any increased charges, the options for reducing costs are becoming more limited.

“Effectively, in his aim of reducing the national deficit, the Chancellor has simply moved a problem on to local councils.

“What is clear is that while the council has a sound financial position for the short term, unless we take action now as the Government grant disappears, we shall have a huge deficit in the future.

“Councillors will therefore need to discuss a medium term strategy of how to tackle this when they meet for our annual budget meeting in February 2016.”

HDC has frozen its element of council tax for the last six years. A one per cent rise in its precept every year from 2016/17 to 2019/20 could raise a cumulative £800,000, while a two per cent rise in just 2016/17 would bring in an extra £640,000 over the four year period.

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