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Crawley Council reveal budget for 19/20 to tackle homelessness

Crawley Borough Council say their budget for 2019/20 will protect frontline services, provide extra funding to combat homelessness and will continue to invest in the town.

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The budget was approved at a meeting of Full Council on Wednesday (27 February).

The council’s 2019/20 budget includes:

  • £7m to purchase investment properties. The rental income generated from these will be used to help fund council services
  • More than £9m over three years for repairs to council homes
  • The creation of a new ring-fenced ‘Supported Accommodation’ reserve to combat homelessness, funded from additional Housing Benefit subsidy paid to the council on behalf of residents in supported accommodation
  • The purchase of a housing development in Broadfield, giving the council a good payback period and providing tenants with a more efficient service
  • A new integrated housing database to replace the council’s outdated systems
  • The ICT transformation programme.

Crawley will suffer a further 89.7 per cent cut in revenue support from the Government over the next year. The reduction in funding since 2016/17 is £1.72m.

Despite this, the council say they have identified additional income, efficiencies and savings of £1.26m, meaning that the council’s element of Council Tax will rise by just 2.49 per cent, the equivalent of only 9p per week for a band D property.

West Sussex County Council has agreed a rise of 4.99 per cent (£65.79 on a band D property) and the precept for the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner will rise by 14.47 per cent (£24 on a band D property).

For every pound paid in Council Tax, West Sussex County Council will receive 77.8p, Sussex Police will receive 10.7p with Crawley Borough Council receiving just 11.5p.

Councillor Peter Lamb, Leader of Crawley Borough Council, said:

“Local services used to be paid from income tax, meaning those who earned more paid more. Due to government cuts to council and police funding, funding for these services increasingly comes from Council Tax which tends to hit pensioners and poorer residents hardest.

“While Crawley Borough Council is responsible for collecting all your Council Tax, more than 88 per cent of it goes to West Sussex County Council or Sussex Police. We’ve worked hard to ensure that Crawley Borough Council’s part of the bill is kept roughly in line with inflation, meaning that the ‘real terms’ increase this year comes exclusively from West Sussex and the police.

“I’m proud to say that despite cuts from central government, we continue to spend the same on services today as when I became Leader, we are probably the only council in the country able to say that.”

For more details on Council Tax bandings and ways to pay, visit www.crawley.gov.uk/counciltax

Business

Crawley jobs at risk as DW Sports goes into administration

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Jobs at DW Sports in Crawley town centre are at risk along with 1,700 hundred jobs across the country as the company announced it is to wind down the business.

The sports website has also been closed with immediate effect.

According to reports closing down sales are due to begin at the remaining stores as the business comes to an end.

Fitness First, a sister company of DW is to continue to operate as a separate company and its 43 clubs are not to be affected by the news.

Chief executive Martin Long said:

“As a consequence of Covid-19, we found ourselves in a position where we were mandated by Government to close down both our retail store portfolio and our gym chain in its entirety for a protracted period, leaving us with a high fixed-cost base and zero income.

“Like many other retail businesses, the consequences of this extremely challenging operating market have created inevitable profitability issues for DW Sports.

“The decision to appoint administrators has not been taken lightly but will give us the best chance to protect viable parts of the business, return them to profitability, and secure as many jobs as possible.

“It is a difficult model for any business to manage through without long-term damage, and with the limited support which we have been able to gain.

“Having exhausted all other available options for the business, we firmly believe that this process can be a platform to restructure the business and preserve many of our gyms for our members, and also protect the maximum number of jobs possible for our team members.”

Crawley Councillor Peter Smith, Cabinet member for Planning and Economic Development, said:

“This is terrible news for the staff of DW Sports; I sympathise with them and hope that they are able to secure other employment quickly. Our Employ Crawley service is currently providing free one-to-one employability and training support to jobseekers by phone, email and text.”

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