Ramsgate Town Council (RTC) has always tried to be open and straight forward in its dealings with Ramsgate residents. We try to avoid using jargon or acronyms with no explanation. We use plain English to explain what we are doing and why.
This year unfortunately, our precept is going up and this little document will explain why this is necessary.
RTC has for years run on a very tight budget, with no precept increases at all in some years. During that time our precept revenues dropped because of Council tax benefit rules set by central government, but administered by Thanet District Council (TDC) reduced the amount we could raise per pound of precept.
The precept is the figure we set every year based on our best estimate of what we will need each year to run the Council’s business. The amount we can raise in revenue has slowly risen year by year, but this has been offset by losses elsewhere, that are beyond our control.
There are two significant factors that have caused this year’s increase. The first is a substantial loss in grant money from the government paid to offset the loss of revenue because of the reform of Council tax benefit and the second is the large reduction in income at TDC, which may mean that RTC may have to take over responsibility for some services that are presently run by TDC.
It has not yet been decided how this will happen or which services may be affected, but without sufficient ready cash, RTC cannot even consider how it might intervene and where will be the most useful intervention in the interests of the economy and people of Ramsgate.
We already do this to some extent by:
- Subsidising free parking on Saturdays at Leopold Street Car Park.
- Running two allotment sites at no cost to TDC at Margate Road and Cemetery Gates.
- Being the largest sponsor and administrator of events in Ramsgate.
- Deep cleaning the streets of Ramsgate so that they are fit for purpose.
- Maintaining the flower beds and providing floral improvements in the Town centre and along Harbour Street.
As a Council we have limited legal duties, which mainly refer to our statutory allotment sites, but we do have a number of enabling powers which allow the Council to do more than its minimal duty. So apart from the work already listed RTC does:
- Look after the land at Montefiore: an important green space and wildlife reserve.
- Maintain the Town’s Christmas lights.
- Grant aid many small voluntary bodies.
- Run the Town’s Visitor centre after it was closed in 2009.
- Fund the Active Ramsgate visitor advertising campaign.
- Fund the Ramsgate Rocks visitor booklet.
- Act as the guardian of the Town’s best interests in planning matters.
- Fund and support the Ramsgate Neighbourhood Plan.
- From April we will be part funding a much needed Rape crisis centre and to provide some funding for the Ramsgate office of Thanet Citizens Advice Bureau.
In future, RTC is not going to rely solely on its limited precept revenue and intends to seek funding for capital projects from a wide range of funding bodies. As part of the Ramsgate Coastal Communities Fund it has successfully obtained several grants and hopes to be successful in a major grant application made last December.
The Council knows that we cannot rely on others to do this work for us and if the Town is to regenerate completely and successfully it will take a significant effort over the next few years.
When all is said and done we have to raise the precept but take this into consideration:
- RTC’s precept is one of the lowest in the County if not in England.
- 2/3 of all residents will only pay a part of the Band D figure.
- 1/3 of Ramsgate residents get a Council Tax discount.
- The total precept per household for a full year at the full Band D rate is much less than the cost of filling an average car with petrol or diesel (£66-£69).
- The recent increase announced by N Power for gas and electric supply (£109) is more than twice the sum that RTC has approved for its total precept at band D. RTC is at least intending to do more with the extra money raised.
- For those whose house is rated at Band D it works out at just under £1 per week, for most residents it is less.
So to conclude announcing tax increases is never good news, but I think I have shown that we spend your money wisely and that RTC is your surest guarantee of securing and safeguarding the town’s interests in an uncertain world.