This is a list of frequently asked questions that are put to the Council around the time that budgets are set and Council Tax bills issued. This is not an exhaustive list, and constructive feedback from the public is always welcomed by the Council. As more feedback is received, we will add any general points and questions to this list, for the benefit of all visitors to this website, so please revisit this page at a later date.
Over the past seven years we have been able to freeze Fareham's part of Council Tax by running our services more efficiently and by using careful financial management. Despite these efficiencies, our finances are getting tighter and this year Government Grants have been reduced by 19%. This means that we have to find ways to ensure that we can continue to provide residents with the high level of service they expect.
We consulted with residents earlier this year and they agreed that increasing Fareham's part of Council Tax by £5 was a good approach to take. Despite this increase, we still have one of the lowest rates of Council Tax in the country.
The table below shows how the Council Tax has increased over the last 5 years:
|(All figs in the table refer to Band D properties)||2011/12||2012/13||2013/14||2014/15||2015/16||2016/17|
|Fareham Borough Council||140.22||140.22||140.22||140.22||140.22||145.22|
|Total Band D||1,385.73||1,385.73||1,390.73||1,393.74||1,396.81||1,447.56|
|% Increase on previous year||0.0%||0.0%||+0.36%||+0.22%||+1.99%||+3.6%|
|Fareham Borough Council Increase||0.0%||0.0%||0.0%||0.0%||0.0%||+3.6%|
Note 1: "Other LA's" refers to the band D charges from Hampshire County Council, Hampshire Police & Crime Commissioner and the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority.
The extensive range of services that the Council provides is summarised on this website. These include sport and recreation, planning, refuse and recycling collection, housing, benefits, environmental health, street cleaning, community safety, etc. A more detailed performance plan is also published in the Spring edition of the Fareham Today magazine.
The Council's reserves are a finite resource and are held in case of unforeseen events occurring that require immediate financial input; for example flood prevention, storm damage repairs, significant income losses, etc. The Council does not believe that it would be prudent to suppress tax rises by using these essential reserves. Instead, day to day spending is kept within the bounds of the regular resource inflows available to it.
Interest earned (£569,900 planned in 2016/17) is offset against the net cost of services, which keeps the Council Tax at an affordable level.
You are legally obliged to pay the Council Tax. If payments are not made, the Council will issue a single reminder. If this does not prompt a payment, then the Council will issue a Court summons, which will add additioanl costs and could lead to further action to collect the debt, including the attachment of earnings or the attachment of certain benefits or the use of Bailiffs.
Discounts and exemptions are offered in certain circumstances. For example, those on low incomes (Council Tax Support), students, single occupants, and owners of second homes are all entitled to a discount. For full details about Council Tax Support and discounts available, please contact the Council Tax office on Tel: 01329 824651, or e-mail email@example.com, or see the Council Tax pages.
Further details on the spending plans of Hampshire County Council can be found at www.hants.gov.uk/counciltax2016-17 .
Further details on the spending plans of Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner can be found at www.hampshire-pcc.gov.uk/Accountability/Council-Tax.aspx .
Further details on the spending plans of Hampshire Fire & Rescue Authority can be found at www.hantsfire.gov.uk/how-we-are-performing/our-performance/council-tax-information/ .
Government legislation sets out the framework for collecting Council Tax. The way it operates in the Fareham area is that the County Council and the Police and Fire Authorities advise Fareham BC what their proportion of the Council Tax bill needs to be. Fareham brings them all together and raises a single bill to the household. Then, Fareham pay over a fixed amount to the other Authorities on a regular basis. Any difference between the amount collected and the amount paid over to each Authority is held as a surplus or deficit in a separate account (called the Collection Fund). If the Collection Fund has a surplus, then this can be used to reduce the Council Tax in the following year. Similarly, any shortfall needs to be recovered through the coming years bills.
While paying all the Council Tax to Fareham Borough Council sometimes makes it difficult to see how much of the bill relates to the services provided by the 3 other Authorities, it is the most economical and trouble-free way method of collection, it reduces the number of bills that the public receive and also the number of organisations that need to be contacted if personal circumstances change, (for example only Fareham BC need to be contacted if circumstances have changed such that you are now entitled to a Council Tax discount).
Government legislation dictates the services that Council's must deliver. These are known as statutory services and the law determines that the cost of these services be met primarily through local taxation. The Council also has the power to deliver certain non-mandatory services where the need exists within the Borough. The cost of these services is more likely to be met either through taxation, through fees and charges or a combination of the two. For example, The Council is obliged to provide an environmental health service, to protect the health and safety of the local community. Certain charges are made (e.g. restaurants pay a fee to be licensed) but a large proportion of the cost is met through taxation.
A business rates retention scheme was introduced from April 2013. It provides a direct link between business rates growth and the amount of money councils have to spend on local people and local services. Fareham will be able to keep a proportion of the business rates revenue as well as growth on the revenue that is generated in this area. This will provide a strong financial incentive to promote economic growth. Business rates retention is at the heart of the government's reform agenda and will help achieve 2 priorities: economic growth and localism.
The last Government postponed the 2007 revaluation of domestic properties for Council Tax purposes. There is currently no proposed date for the revaluation.
For further information please contact the Council Tax office on Tel: 01329 824651, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.