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Business Ratepayer Consultation for 2022/23 Budget

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

At the Full Council meeting on Thursday 10 February a budget will be considered and agreed for the 2022/23 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 9
  • Capital Budget (note: this also includes the proposed treasury strategy): Item 8

Of particular note are:

  • Appendix B to the revenue report includes a full list of savings and investment proposals. This includes the development of a Economic Development Strategy during 2022/23, which will in turn determine the activities and projects that the Council will undertaken in future years. It also includes investment in our Environmental Health service with a particular focus on food safety inspections.
  • 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 £4m investment to develop museum and commercial storage. Whilst there are no specific allocations, the Council will also continue to investigate property acquisitions and developments that support the Council’s priorities, including regeneration.

Send us your comments

If you have any comments on the budget please e-mail ian.couper@north-herts.gov.uk by Wednesday 9 February. These comments will then be included when the budget is considered by Full Council on 10 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, the Council has been significantly impacted by the effects of Covid-19. It has increased the Councils costs (e.g. in relation to homelessness spend) and resulted in large drops in the income that the Council would usually expect to receive (e.g. car parking and leisure income). In 2020/21 the net cost of Covid-19 was just over £1.5m, and it is forecast to be a similar amount this year (2021/22). We are not expecting any Government support for Covid-19 in 2022/23 and are estimating a net impact again in excess of £1.5m.These costs are having to be funded from Reserves. We appreciate that you are also likely to have been significantly impacted, and we have been provided with specific funding to pass on to and support businesses. Further details on that can be found here Coronavirus: business support | North Herts Council (north-herts.gov.uk)

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 2023/24 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 (2021/22), 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 forecasts very uncertain. During next financial year (2022/23) 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 future. 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 2022-27 determines three key priorities of People First, Sustainability and a brighter future together. It is also based around four themes, including our local 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.