Business Ratepayer Consultation for 2020/21 Budget

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

At the Full Council meeting on Thursday 6 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 17
  • Capital Budget (note: this also includes the proposed treasury strategy): Item 18

Of particular note are:

  • Appendix B to the revenue report includes a full list of savings and investment proposals. There are a few investments detailed that could have an impact on businesses. These include carrying out Town Centre strategy reviews and continuing with a shared Economic Development Officer post for 2 years.
  • 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 5 February. These comments will then be included when the budget is considered by Full Council on 6 February.

Background

Since the start of the Government’s austerity programme began in 2010, the Council has delivered almost £9m of savings on its revenue budget, and is in the process of delivering efficiencies of £0.6m in this year. The delay of an expected funding cut means that the Council is expecting to have a budget surplus in 2020/21. However it is expected that known and expected funding cuts will mean that this will switch to a funding deficit in 2021/22 onwards. As a result the Council is still looking at maximising the funding it receives and ways that it can reduce expenditure, especially in later years.

During this financial year (2019/20), the Council has been part of a Business Rate Pilot which means it can retain more of the Business Rate growth in the area. During next financial year (2020/21) it will be part of a Business Rate Pool, which should mean that it can also retain some more of the Business Rate growth in the area, but less than when part of the Pilot. 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 2020/21 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 2020-25 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.