In any given year, S.P.C. incurs many costs that simply cannot be avoided. Insurance, subscriptions and grass cutting are examples of this. Since the time of the last precept increase, seven years ago in 2013, the cost of these things has risen steadily, and whilst the required funding has never been a problem, the extra outlay has resulted in steady erosion of monies available for the numerous other works the Council has to oversee.
For this current year, from a precept of £4250, only around £1500 (35%) was available to cover any general expense, such as tree felling / pruning, or footpath repairs, and for a Parish the size of Scruton, this is a very small amount indeed, and it will reduce year on year without remedial action.
In order to arrest the decline and to bolster the funds to a more reasonable level, the decision was taken to increase the precept. The amount of increase was not scientifically calculated but it was felt that £300 or £400 would only scratch the surface of the problem and necessitate further increases in the near future. SPC acknowledge that the increase might seem on the high side at near 18%, but it is the first increase for seven years, the annual cost to each household in the Parish is less than the price of one glass of wine, and even with the increase, the precept level for Scruton is considerably lower than for most of the surrounding Parishes, though direct comparisons can be misleading as there are different levels of accountability.
SPC hope that this clarifies the precept position and stresses that there is no ambition to preside over a large bank balance, only to ensure that adequate funds are available to cover any of the unforeseen eventualities that inevitably arise over any period of time.
M S Widmer (Chair)