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£5.26 council tax rise is agreed to protect vital services in Chichester District

Chichester District councillors have agreed to increase the average council tax bill by £5.26 a year for a band D property in order to protect vital services across the district.

Coins - finance

The decision was made at Chichester District Council's Full Council meeting on 7 March 2023, where the (2.99%) rise was agreed for 2023 to 2024. This means that the average band D council taxpayer will pay £181.07 a year for the council's 80 plus services. This amounts to less than 50 pence a day.

Councillor Peter Wilding, Cabinet Member for Finance at Chichester District Council, says: "We are keeping council tax as low as we can, and we are still one of the lowest charging authorities in the country, but we need to ensure that vital services continue and that we are providing support to those people in our communities that need it the most.

"The pandemic continues to have an impact on our finances, in particular on some of our income-generating services, and this is in addition to new pressures from inflation, the cost-of-living crisis, and other world events.

"As a council we have a legal duty to deliver a balanced budget, which we have achieved this year without the need for using any reserves, which is an excellent achievement considering the current pressures. However, we will face challenges in over the next two or three years, which may mean having to use reserves in the future. 

"Following the immediate aftermath of the pandemic in 2020 and its impact on council finances, we set up the Future Services Framework (FSF) as part of our recovery plan to identify savings. We identified annual savings of £2 million from a mixture of cuts in costs and new income generation ideas. Some of these ideas have had to be put back slightly, but we remain on track to deliver the total identified.

"One of our top priorities is to continue helping those who are most in need across our district. In light of this, we've put money towards three schemes in direct response to the cost-of-living crisis. These include discretionary housing payments, which can provide assistance to low-income households who are struggling to meet their housing costs. This funding will allow us to help more households avoid arrears or homelessness. We've also set aside money to provide grants to the Food Partnership, as well as continuing the Housing Crisis Fund which is used to help homeless people. And, as in previous years, we'll also be continuing to provide our Council Tax Reduction Scheme to residents who are eligible.

"We've also built brand new short stay accommodation to support families, couples and individuals who are in need of a temporary home while they get back on their feet. We launched our Supporting You Team which was created in direct response to the cost-of-living crisis to help people access the support that they need. In addition, supporting businesses is a top priority for us which is why we've just launched the redeveloped St James Industrial estate — the £6 million facility now provides 30 modern industrial units to help businesses in the district grow and thrive.

"I would also urge anyone in the district who is struggling to contact us — our Supporting You Team is here to assist those who are finding times tough at the moment. The team can help people access a wide range of assistance including financial help to pay bills, help with housing, and health and wellbeing support. In addition, the team can also help signpost people to our other partner organisations when they feel this is appropriate, such as Arun and Chichester Citizens Advice, Arun and Chichester Food Partnership and the Community Hub. The team can be contacted by emailing or calling 01243 534860. Information is also available online on the Supporting You campaign webpages."

Chichester District Council collects all the council tax, but only keeps around an 8% share of this. The other 92% is then distributed to West Sussex County Council, The Police and Crime Commissioner, and parish councils. Each of these public service providers make decisions about its council tax increases independently.

For more information, and to read a copy of this year's budget, visit the Council's budget, spending and performance webpage.

Every day, Chichester District Council provides more than 80 different services. These range from emptying bins, checking food hygiene standards, cleaning the streets, looking after the coastline, caring for parks and open spaces and providing support and reassurance to the vulnerable — to name just a few services.

Date of Release: 10 March 2023                                                            

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