2018/19 budgets set for North Herts district and Herts county councils

The budgets for Herts County Council and North Herts District Council have been set.

The budgets for Herts County Council and North Herts District Council have been set. - Credit: Archant

North Herts district and Herts county councils have now set their budgets for the next financial year – and there are council tax rises at both levels.

The North Herts District Council budget for 2018/19 includes a 2.99-per-cent increase in its share of council tax, as local authorities face the squeeze amid reduced funding from central government. This equates to a rise of £5.77 per year for households in band C, which contains a third of the district’s properties. The budget is £14.7 million, £1.7 million less than in 2017/18.

Councillor Julian Cunningham, responsible for finance at the Conservative-controlled district council, said: “This increase in council tax is necessary because the level of government support to councils is continuing to fall.

“Although this measure will help us to raise some additional funds to sustain the services we provide, it will not bring in enough to ease the financial pressures we are facing.

“Looking forward, we need to ensure that we deliver the savings set out in our budget, as well as identify and deliver a further £400,000 of savings by 2021/22. We are constantly exploring new ways of delivering services and seeking commercialisation opportunities, which can be implemented ahead of any forecast changes in funding.”

NHDC’s Labour group put forward several amendments, all of which were rejected. Among other things they called for plans to remove play equipment to be put on hold, for councillors’ allowances to be reduced, and for the district council to express regret regarding how financial decisions had been reached for the new joint waste contract with East Herts council.

The county council, which is also Conservative, has raised its element of council tax by a total of 5.99 per cent – with half of this going to help fund adult care services.

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The increase works out at an extra £74.88 per year for average band D households.

County council leader David Williams said: “We will be investing more in key areas, including an extra £29 million for improvements on our unclassified road network.”

He added that a consultation had showed most residents would rather pay more council tax than see reduced services.

NHDC’s council tax setting committee determined the combined bill for its residents, also covering parish councils and the police and crime commissioner, last Wednesday night.