DDC has issued a stark warning that the cost of continuing to provide current port health services would be £2.8m or 33% of all DDC Council Tax income in 2024/25, increasing to 47% in 2025/26 if planned government cuts go ahead.
The Council’s most senior finance officer is warning that this cost, combined with changes to local government funding, could undermine the Council’s budget, greatly increasing the risk of the council having to issue a section 114 notice, effectively ‘bankrupting’ the council.
DDC’s Cabinet will meet on Monday (5 February) to discuss the implications of the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) plans which would mean that the Dover District council tax payer would have to meet all the costs of providing vital national port health services, including essential biosecurity.
Currently DDC receives funding for Port Health services which DEFRA plans to withdraw over the next two years, (over £2m in 2024/25 and a further £1.2m in 2025/26). The Council will have to maintain the service at its own expense, with limited opportunities to meet any of the costs.
Cllr Kevin Mills, Leader of DDC said: “DEFRA is backing Dover District residents into a corner, expecting them to pick up the tab for vital national biosecurity checks. The Dover Port Health Authority (DPHA) has clearly demonstrated its expertise, for example, seizing over 65 tonnes of illegal pork products since September 2022.
“Expecting local residents to fund this national service through their Council Tax is unacceptable. If these proposals remain unchanged we will have no option but to scale back the biosecurity of the Nation to protect local services for local taxpayers.”
For more information, please see the section 25 report to DDC Cabinet on the DDC website.