Council budget agreed for 2021/2022

PR Date: 
Friday, 12 February 2021 - 3:30pm

At a meeting of North Hertfordshire District Council’s (NHDC) Full Council on 11 February, Councillors agreed the budget for 2021/2022.

The budget takes into account the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, with a predicted £2.2 million shortfall of income and additional expenditure due to this, which the Council will meet from its financial reserves.

Significant uncertainty over areas of reduced income during the coming financial year including parking revenue, Planning fees and revenue from Hitchin Town Hall, are reflected in the budget. A reduction in Council Tax income was also taken into account, due to more households being eligible for Council Tax support.

The Council’s commitment to financially support and ensure the future of our Leisure Centres in the district is also included. Leisure Centres have suffered financial hardship due to lockdown closures and restricted attendance measures when they have been able to open.

NHDC has committed to provide an additional £50,000 to support the vital work of Citizens Advice North Herts during 2021/2022. This is in addition to the core funding that it currently provides to the organisation.

The Council will also continue to deliver the investments in services that it put forward in last year’s budget.

Due to the impact of the pandemic, the expected Local Government funding review has not taken place meaning that negative Revenue Support Grant, where the Council would have to pay a further £1m of Business Rate funding to the Government, will not apply in 2021/2022. However, it is assumed that this will be introduced in the future.

This combined with the impact on the Council’s reserves and the forecast spend in 2021/2022 means that there will be an increase in Council Tax by £5 for a band D property (with other bands pro-rata to this), which is approximately a 2.1% increase for all properties.

Cllr Ian Albert, NHDC Executive Member for Finance said: “We are currently going through very difficult and uncertain times. Like most Local Authorities across the country, our resources and finances are stretched to their limits due to the coronavirus pandemic. Government support has been welcome but has not covered the full extent of our losses.

“While the full financial impact of this over the long-term is not yet known, in the short-term there is a significant shortfall in our finances. This continued financial uncertainty unfortunately means that we will need to raise the Council Tax rate in April. This increase will enable us to continue to deliver the high quality of service, that the people of North Hertfordshire deserve and expect from us, and this includes our commitment to maintain vital leisure services and swimming pools across the whole district.”

NHDC’s Council tax rates, which includes the amounts for other bodies such as Hertfordshire County Council and the Police and Crime Commissioner for 2021/22, will be formally agreed at the Council Tax Setting Committee on 25 February.

Council Offices in Letchworth Garden City