Rother debates whether to freeze Council Tax in 2013

MONDAY’S meeting of Rother District Council’s Cabinet brought early indications that the authority is minded to freeze Council Tax next year.

Doing so would bring a government grant of £62,000, although raising it by two per cent would attract double the money from Whitehall.

Cllr Tony Ganly said that “workings on the back of an envelope” showed Rother might get £186,000 or £200,000 for three or four per cent rises in Council Tax, but such increases would require a local referendum. This was unlikely to win public support, since as Cllr Ganly observed: “Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas.”

Head of finance Robin Vennard said: “There’s currently a great deal of uncertainty over future levels of funding in local government. A draft announcement on funding for 2013/14 is not expected until after the Government’s autumn budget statement.”

However, Whitehall had announced support equivalent to an increase of one per cent in Council Tax if it was kept at current levels. For Rother, this equated to some £62,000.

Cllr Martin Kenward said he favoured a freeze, and other Cabinet members also agreed proposals for imminent budget consultations.

Council leader Carl Maynard said Rother had proved itself to be one of the leanest, most efficient councils in the country, but while core services were being maintained the time had come for “a long hard look” at discretionary services.

Rother faces having to save £2.3 million over the next five years.