Mid Sussex commits to council tax freeze despite £500k shortfall in Government funding


Mid Sussex District Council is freezing Council Tax for the fourth year in a row as part of its 2014/15 Budget.

The Council’s Draft Corporate Plan and Budget 2014/15 was unanimously agreed by Mid Sussex District Council at a meeting last Wednesday (February 26, 2014).
The Council Tax freeze means the Mid Sussex District Council element of Council Tax for an average Band D property will remain at £149.58 per year, the same as residents paid in 2010/11.
Each year the Council is required to approve a Corporate Plan and Budget that shows how it will deliver its services and spend its financial resources in the following financial year.

The approved budget must be in balance, this means expenditure plans must be matched by income received.

The continuing squeeze on Local Government finance means Mid Sussex District Council needed to find £532,000 in savings to plug the gap in its budget for 2014/15.

By continuing the successful approach that has delivered £5.5 million in efficiency savings in recent years, Mid Sussex District Council has set out plans to make the necessary savings whilst also protecting frontline services.

The Council states it has continued to maintain tight controls over costs and looked at new, cost effective, ways of delivering services and directing resources where most needed.

In addition to Council Tax, parking and green waste collection charges will also be frozen.
“Setting a balanced budget with reduced income is always a challenge but we have taken a prudent approach that protects our frontline services and maintains the existing levels of grant funding we provide to the voluntary sector for valuable community projects,” said Councillor Garry Wall, leader of Mid Sussex District Council.

“We have allocated our limited resources to the areas that are most important to our residents and the Council.

“We have also identified a number of areas where we can make those all-important savings without impacting on essential Council services.
“As well as making savings we are planning to deliver new and innovative projects that will improve services for local residents.”

A new refuse and recycling depot at Bridge Road in Haywards Heath, due to be completed shortly, was given as an example.

Mr Wall added: “we are working in partnership to regenerate Mid Sussex town centres and stations, and we have made improvements to our reception area to provide a better service for local people.
“Work will soon be starting on our business starter units that will help new and small businesses in the area to grow and we will look to improve recycling in the district by rolling out a successful pilot project.”
Councillor Jonathan Ash-Edwards, cabinet member for Finance and Service Delivery added: “For many pensioners and families on low and middle incomes, Council Tax represents a substantial monthly expenditure and increasing Council Tax would place an additional pressure on household budgets at a time when wages are largely not rising.

“Mid Sussex District Council has chosen to ‘freeze’ Council Tax for the fourth successive year to help keep more money in the pockets of local families.”