Council tax bills for Crawley households set to rise again

Special expenses have risen this year
Special expenses have risen this year

Average council tax bills in Crawley will rise by around £70 per year from April.

On top of a £55 increase from West Sussex County Council and £10 from Sussex Police, Crawley Borough Council’s cabinet has recommended a rise of £4.95 for Band D homes and £4.40 for Band C.

If approved at a meeting of the full council on February 26, the increase will take the borough’s portion of Band D bills from £203.94 to £208.89, and Band C from £181.28 to £185.68.

On top of that, council house tenants will see their rent rise by £2.80, taking the cost of an average home from £103.74 to £106.54 per week.

Cabinet members also looked at the budget for 2020/21.

While the surplus of £498,000 may have looked sunny, leader Peter Lamb warned of rough times ahead.

Councils across the country are waiting for the findings of the delayed Fairer Funding Review, which will affect how much money each local authority receives from the government.

Alongside a review looking at what portion of business rates councils can keep, it’s unlikely to be good news.

Mr Lamb said the impact of both reviews ‘would very likely be a significant reduction in this council’s income’.

He added: “They will be coming forward at some point in the future and that leaves us with a real challenge because the amounts we’re talking about potentially losing are very significant – millions of pounds worth of significance.

“But this year we happen to be in a position where, because we’ve already taken steps to address the budget gap, we happen to have a surplus.”

A report to the cabinet said the council would spend £15,848,000 in 2020/21 – up from £14,230,371 in 2019/20 – with £1,169,000 expected to be transferred to reserves.

But that £498,000 surplus was predicted to become a £1.6m shortfall by 2022/23.

Mr Lamb said: “It’s going to be a real struggle to try to keep services going in the future given the level of cuts already made to local government funding and the amount of effort that’s had to go into keeping things the way they are today.

“The reality is, if people want proper services, sooner or later something’s going to have to change.”