Horsham council spending power increase after Government grant

JPCT 17-08-12 S12330140X Horsham, Horsham District Council, office building, HDC -photo by Steve Cobb ENGSUS00120120817141105
JPCT 17-08-12 S12330140X Horsham, Horsham District Council, office building, HDC -photo by Steve Cobb ENGSUS00120120817141105
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Horsham District Council’s spending power for 2015-2016 will rise by 2.9 per cent, despite 8.8 per cent cuts from central Government to councils nationwide.

According to figures supplied to the BBC by the Department for Communities and Local Government, HDC is the fourth biggest winner in terms of spending power of any council across the country.

It is closely followed by a 2.6 per cent gain for West Sussex County Council, placing it seventh in the country.

HDC’s spending power gain compares to a UK average fall of 1.8 per cent, with some councils facing cuts of 6.4 per cent.

Spending power has been recorded since 2011-2012, and shows the revenue available to local governments to support services and local citizens.

It is calculated by looking at council tax figures, Settlement Funding Assessment figures, specific grants, New Homes Bonus allocations and revenue funding for the Better Care Fund, which helps local authorities integrate health and care services with the NHS.

While central Government grants provide the highest proportion of local council revenue in most areas, council tax is a bigger factor in some councils such as the Horsham district.

Mr Dawe said: “The government introduced Spending Power as a total measure of local council funding a few years ago.

It is our belief that there will continued reductions in government grant and that we should budget for this to be reduced to zero within the next four years.

“In anticipating this, the council has been stepping up action to improve efficiency and reduce reliance on this grant, while at the same time maintaining delivery of services to our residents.

“Equally, over the last four years councillors have decided not to increase council tax and are budgeting for no Increase in the coming year.

“As part of this strategy the council took the decision to put part of the money received from the government’s New Homes Bonus (payment for additional houses) into reserves. The receipts from New Homes Bonus are more than the reduction in government grant, so in the calculation used, its net Spending Power has increased.

“The council is currently developing policies for future use of New Homes Bonus but awaits more certain knowledge of future government funding strategies for local councils.”

Meanwhile, West Sussex County Council has outlined its plan to plug an expected £124m hole in its budget between 2015 and 2019.

But county council finance officers disputed the claim that its funding had in fact increased, saying a ‘like for like’ comparison wasn’t possible.

It is claimed the Better Care Fund is something the government ‘have included in their calculation...that isn’t wholly ours to do as we want with, but it’s to be shared with partners in support of new duties’.

If you discount this funding, it is claimed, it shows ‘a decrease of -2.3 per cent, not an increase’.

A spokesperson from the council added: “It is broadly in line with what we were expecting – but we still have to look at it in detail.

“Our position remains that we are aiming to make £124m worth of savings over the next four years.”

The government’s Revenue Spending Power figures show that councils in England will see their overall spending power fall by an average of 1.8 per cent from next year. West Sussex County Council and Horsham District Council have been asked to comment.