Special Expenses consultation

​This consultation has now closed.

Background

The Council Tax you pay to us is made up of up to three elements – a general Council tax paid by all residents, a charge called a Special Expense, and a local tax (precept) which we charge to you on behalf of your local town or parish council.

The Special Expense charge you pay depends on where you live and the services that we provide in your area.  It is made up of up to three elements to fund the cost to us of the following services - maintenance of non-strategic play spaces, Christmas lights, Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).

The reason Special Expense charges are made is because we became aware that residents in some areas were being charged by their town or parish council (through a precept) for local provision of one or more of the services detailed above and by us (through general Council Tax) for provision of the same services in the rest of the borough.  This is known as double taxation.  Introducing a Special Expense charge for each of these services addresses this problem as it ensures that only residents in those areas where we provide these services are charged for them.

The following examples show how the 2016/17 Council Tax charge is built up for residents in a Band D property in three different areas of the borough.

Example 1 – Chester

Chester is an unparished area so there is no local precept.  We maintain a number of non-strategic play spaces in Chester; the Christmas lights in Chester city centre are paid for by us; we pay for a number of PCSOs based in the city centre and the surrounding areas.  The 2016/17 Council Tax bill is built up as follows:

  • General Council Tax - £1,320.40
  • Special Expense for play spaces - £5.31
  • Special Expense for Christmas lights - £4.15
  • Special Expense for PCSOs - £2.93
  • Total 2016/17 Council Tax charge - £1,332.79

Example 2 – Winsford

Winsford is a parish area where a number of local services are provided by Winsford Town Council and charged to residents through a local precept.  We pay for the maintenance of some non-strategic play spaces in Winsford and others are paid for by Winsford Town Council; the Christmas lights in the town are paid for by the town council; the town council also pays for the provision of a locally based PCSO.  The 2016/17 Council Tax bill is built up as follows:

  • General Council Tax - £1,320.40
  • Special Expense for play spaces - £2.03
  • Special Expense for Christmas lights - £0.00
  • Special Expense for PCSOs - £0.00
  • Winsford Town Council precept £39.79
  • Total 2016/17 Council Tax charge £1,362.22

Example 3 – Frodsham

Frodsham is a parish area where a number of local services are provided by Frodsham Town Council and charged to residents through a local precept.  Frodsham Town Council pays for the maintenance of all non-strategic play spaces in the area; Frodsham Town Council pays for the Christmas lights in the town; Frodsham Town Council also pays for the provision of a locally based PCSO.  The 2016/17 Council Tax bill is built up as follows:

  • General Council Tax - £1,320.40
  • Special Expense for play spaces - £0.00
  • Special Expense for Christmas lights - £0.00
  • Special Expense for PCSOs - £0.00
  • Frodsham Town Council precept - £58.14
  • Total 2016/17 Council Tax charge - £1,378.54

Special Expense charges do not increase the total amount of money raised from residents; instead, they adjust how Council Tax is allocated to different areas depending on which of the three services they receive from us.

We are currently reviewing the scheme and considering whether the way the charges are allocated for each service is still appropriate.  This consultation sets out how the scheme currently works and seeks your views on alternative options.

Additional Information

The table in the following link shows the indicative annual charge and impact of each option on an annual Band D Council Tax bill in each area.  If you live in a property with a different banding, the charge will be a proportion of that for a Band D property e.g. a charge of £9 for a Band D property would be £7 for a Band B property.

The charges shown in the table are indicative as they may not be the actual charges in each area in 2017/18.  This is because the actual charges will depend on the calculation of the taxbase for each area, and this calculation has not yet been made for 2017/18.   The taxbase is the number of properties in each area adjusted to account for property bandings, new builds, discounts and exemptions.

We have identified a number of play spaces as strategic, meaning that they benefit residents across the borough and are not funded through Special Expenses.  The following link lists these strategic play spaces:

Special Expense charges for Christmas lights are currently charged to two unparished areas (Chester unparished area and Ellesmere Port Charter Trustee area).  The boundaries of these areas can be seen in the following map:

Several parishes in the borough have cross-constituency boundaries.  For example, some residents in Christleton will vote in a general election to elect a representative for the City of Chester constituency; others to elect a representative for the Eddisbury constituency.  The other parishes with cross-constituency boundaries are Aldford and Saighton, Capenhurst and Ledsham and Dunham-on-the-Hill and Hapsford. If you live in one of these parishes you will be affected differently by Option 1 relating to Christmas lights (shown in the consultation) depending on which constituency you live in.  The following link is to the Council’s interactive mapping system: 

To use the interactive mapping system to find out which constituency you live in, please follow these steps:

  • Enter your postcode in the “Search” box to the left of the map
  • Click on “Map Data” and then “Council and Democracy” from the options to the left of the map
  • Click on the box to the left of “Westminster Constituencies” (a tick should appear in the box)
  • Click on the map close to your property.  This will open a box with the name of the constituency you live in

If you are completing the online survey and wish to refer to the information in the links above, please ensure you open these links prior to opening the online survey.

How to get involved

The consultation will run for ten weeks from 3 November 2016 to 11 January 2017.

You can complete the survey online or by printing off the questionnaire and posting or emailing it back to us using the address details below.  If you would like a paper questionnaire to be sent to you, please contact us.

Other ways to take part

Please quote Special Expenses consultation on any correspondence

How your views will be used

Responses to the consultation will be used to inform the decision on how Special Expenses charges are allocated to residents in areas across the borough.  The final charges will be agreed as part of the annual Council Tax Setting Report on 23 February 2017.

Further information

Council information is also available in audio, braille, large print or other formats.  If you would like a copy in a different format, in another language, or require a British sign language (BSL) interpreter, please contact:

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