Finance

ABC Cabinet recommends £ 4.55 Council Tax increase

ABC CrestLast Thursday night Ashford Borough Council’s cabinet members considered new options put to them by central government about the level at which council tax can be set for the financial year 2016-17.

Ashford’s element of council tax is the lowest in Kent. Indeed, as it sets one of the lowest precepts in the country, Ashford has been given special dispensation by central government to raise its element of council tax by up to £5 a year for the forthcoming financial year, without triggering a referendum.

The news that the borough council was to have this option came last Monday afternoon, when the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark MP, addressed the House of Commons. He stated that this option was open to “the most economical authorities” which includes Ashford Borough Council.

However, cabinet members took the view that it would not recommend raising council tax by the full £5 but by £4.55 per year. If full council approves this approach on 18th February it means that the average charge for a band D property for the 2016-17 financial year in Ashford will be exactly £150. The average district council tax for Kent is set to be £190.35 for 2016-17. (more…)

Warning of upsurge in text scams

Fraud WatchConsumers are being warned of a recent upsurge in spoof text message which appear to be sent from their bank or a government department in a bid to steal their personal or financial information.

The scam text messages claim that there has been suspicious activity on the recipient’s account or that their account details need to be ‘updated’ or ‘verified’. The recent rising trend has been reported to Financial Fraud Action UK.

The fraudulent texts encourage people to visit a website or call a number, often claiming the matter is urgent. However the website or telephone number is actually controlled by the fraudster, enabling them to steal security details which can be used to access the victim’s bank account and take money. (more…)

Understanding when food goes off could save you money.

Food date labelsUse by dates

These refer to food safety

Don’t eat food after this date, even if it looks and smells OK

Best before dates

These refer to food quality

Food is still safe to eat after this date, but may not be at its best

Did you know?

You can ignore ‘display until’ and ‘sell before’ dates. These are for shop staff, not shoppers.

Love Food Hate Waste, Money Advice Service

Your views sought on ABC draft budget

ABC CrestFollowing the Ashford Borough Council’s (ABC) December cabinet meeting the Council has formally proposed a draft budget.

The budget will be considered by the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee as part of the democratic process and, ultimately, will be considered by full council in February 2016. However, there is now an opportunity for residents to express their views.

ABC say that the draft budget has been put together at a time of continued uncertainty for local government. The comprehensive spending review took place in late December and the details are still being analysed. It is clear however, that the traditional way that central government has funded local authorities is being phased out.

This emphasises why the Council has stated its ambition to seek to be independent of government grant by the 2018-19 financial year, or as soon after as is possible. Initiatives such as the council’s property acquisition strategy, securing additional revenue streams, and innovations such as the creation of two companies wholly owned by the council, are helping to bridge what would otherwise have been gaps in budget. (more…)