New store helps to freeze council tax

SAINSBURY’S in Bognor Regis is helping to freeze council tax for the town’s residents.

The return of the retailer three months ago has boosted the payments Arun District Council receives from the government.

Whitehall wants to reward councils which encourage development. It has changed the way business rates are collected to reflect this policy.

The result is that Arun is receiving an unexpected £470,000 for the 12 months from April. Council head of finance Alan Peach said this was mainly due to new supermarkets opening. “This is good news for us,” he said.

Similarly, the amount Arun will receive from the government’s new homes bonus will increase by £1m in the year thanks to the amount of housing being completed on developments such as site six in North Bersted and Felpham.

“Growth in businesses and housing is crucial for our future finances, whether people agree with it or not. That’s the facts,” said Mr Peach.

These growth-related payments will more than offset the ten per cent – or £600,000 – cut in the main grant which the council will get from Whitehall to enable the council’s general balance to grow by a predicted £600,000 to just over £13m.

The financial good health and good management is about to enable Arun’s councillors to again agree to freeze their share of council tax. The cabinet’s recommendation of a same-again charge of £161.37 for a band D property is sure to be backed at next Wednesday’s special council meeting.

Gillian Brown, the council’s leader, said: “I would like to highlight that we will have frozen council tax for the third year.

“We are very well aware of how difficult it is for some people at the moment and we must do everything we can to help.” Arun’s share of the council tax bill costs a band D home just over £3 a week.