At the Full Council meeting on Thursday 23 February 2023 a budget will be considered and agreed for the 2023/24 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 every day 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 10
- Capital Budget (note: this also includes the proposed treasury strategy): Item 11
Of particular note are:
- Appendix B to the revenue report includes a full list of savings and investment proposals. This includes the income from the acquisition of the Churchgate Shopping Centre in Hitchin, including the use of some of that money to look at future regeneration options. It also includes additional spend in relation to: continued funding for an Economic Development Officer post, funding to develop an Enterprise Strategy, funding to look at options for Hitchin Rail Station eastern access, and continuing contribution to Better Business for All.
- Appendix A2 to the capital report includes a list of new capital schemes. This includes works to Newark Close in Royston, continued capital maintenance of the Council’s car parks and £4m investment to develop museum and commercial storage.
Send us your comments
If you have any comments on the budget please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org by Tuesday 21 February. These comments will then be included when the budget is considered by Full Council on 23 February.
Since the start of the Government’s austerity programme began in 2010, the Council has delivered over £9m of savings on its revenue budget. We are still seeing the effects of Covid-19 with ongoing impacts on things like our leisure and car parking income. Like everyone else, we are also having to deal with the impacts of high inflation on pay and especially contract costs. We continue to face uncertainty over our future funding, with some certainty covering the next 2 years, but high uncertainty thereafter. In the coming year we are expecting that we have to use around £750k of reserves to balance our budget and then £1.2million in 2024/25. In the medium term (depending on forecasts) we will need to identify £2.5m of annual cost savings / additional income generation.
During this financial year (2022/23), the Council has been part of a Business Rate Pool which means it can retain some of the Business Rate growth in the area. During next financial year (2022/23) we had hoped to be part of a Business Rate Pool again. However, the complex impact of Business Rates revaluation has made that too risky. Even when we are part of a Business Rate pool, it is only a short-term arrangements and provides 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 2023-28 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