Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 17th February 2021

This month, Crawley Borough Council will be setting its budget for the next council year, including agreeing what the borough’s part of your council tax will be. It’s currently proposed that Crawley BC’s share will go up by a total of £4.95, an increase of 2.37%, to help close the roughly £2.4m budget gap COVID-19 has created in the council’s finances.

While only 11% of your council tax goes to Crawley, the council is responsible for collecting all of it. 77.9% goes to West Sussex County Council, who have approved a 4.99% increase or £71.79. The remaining 11.1% goes to the Police and Crime Commissioner, who will be putting up their precept by £15, a 7.5% increase.

It’s worth noting, over recent years whenever the Government has announced funding ‘available’ for the police or councils, their calculations require council tax to increase by the maximum amount, ensuring your bills go up while making it sound as though it’s money they’re handing out. Ultimately, this move from grant funding to council tax increases is significantly shifting the tax burden from the wealthiest in our society onto the shoulders of pensioners and those on low incomes.

Due to the postponement of local elections last year, this May you will have the chance to decide who will run all three authorities: Crawley Borough Council, West Sussex County Council and the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner. A good opportunity to compare which party’s representatives are delivering the best value for money in Crawley before the elections take place.

Despite the recommendation of returning officers across the country, the Government is insisting that elections will not be postponed till later in the year. As a result, we are recommending everyone gets a postal vote in order to help limit the spread of the pandemic and because COVID-19 restrictions could mean long queues at polling stations. It will also be important to remember to bring your own pen and face mask, and to check your polling card to see if your polling station has been temporarily moved. Working together, we can ensure every resident gets their say without putting their, and others’, health at risk.

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