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Business Ratepayer Consultation for 2021/22 Budget

Under the Local Finance Act 1992, the Council consults with its Business Ratepayers on its budget.

At the Full Council meeting on Thursday 11 February a budget will be considered and agreed for the 2020/21 year (the Council's financial year runs from 1 April to 31 March). This will include both a revenue budget and a capital budget, and in each case will also consider spend in future years.

The Council is required to split its spend between revenue (spend on everyday running costs) and capital (the acquisition and improvement of the assets it owns that will last for more than one year).

Reports and proposals

The budget will be recommended to the Full Council meeting by the Council’s Cabinet (Executive) - you can read the relevant reports here

  • Revenue Budget: Item 11
  • Capital Budget (note: this also includes the proposed treasury strategy): Item 12

Of particular note are:

  • Appendix B to the revenue report includes a full list of savings and investment proposals. 
  • Appendix A2 to the capital report includes a list of new capital schemes. This includes continued capital maintenance of the Council’s car parks and £20m of investment in the acquisition and development of property. This will include commercial property.

Send us your comments

If you have any comments on the budget please e-mail ian.couper@north-herts.gov.uk by Wednesday 10 February. These comments will then be included when the budget is considered by Full Council on 11 February.

Background

Since the start of the Government’s austerity programme began in 2010, the Council has delivered over £9m of savings on its revenue budget. Although the Council has received some support from Government, it is still forecasting that the impact of COVID-19 will cost between £1.5- 2m in 2020/21, with further additional costs and reduced income on 2021/22 and possibly beyond. These costs are having to be funded from Reserves. COVID-19 has also further delayed the expected reforms to Local Government funding and means that there is high uncertainty as to what the Council’s funding will be in 2022/23 and after. It is expected the Council will see a reduction in funding whilst still having to meet inflationary cost pressures.  As a result the Council continues to look at maximising the funding it receives and ways that it can reduce expenditure.

During this financial year (2020/21), the Council has been part of a Business Rate Pool which means it can retain some of the Business Rate growth in the area. Although the impacts of COVID-19 have made growth forwcasts very uncertain. During next financial year (2021/22) it will also be part of a Business Rate Pool. These are both short-term arrangements and provide no certainty about increased funding going forward, which means that in future years the Council is forecasting that it will only retain around 6% of the Business Rates it collects. 

Over a number of years the Council has funded its capital spend from the money it has received from selling assets, particularly the transfer of its housing stock in 2003. It is now forecast that there will be a need to borrow money to fund capital spend in 2021/22 and beyond. This means that there will be revenue costs relating to interest payments and the requirement to set aside money to repay the borrowing. Therefore the Council has to continue to review its capital programme to ensure that it delivers Council priorities.

The Council Plan for 2021-26 includes an objective to “enable an enterprising and co-operative economy”. Reducing resources means that the Council can’t afford to do everything that it wants to do, but it does adopt policy lead budgeting. This means that it will reflect its objectives when considering and setting budgets.