Residents in Hertfordshire face council tax increase of nearly 5%
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Plans to increase council tax by 4.99 per cent for the coming financial year have been proposed by Hertfordshire County Council.
Overall spending on council services including education, social services, highways and public health, is set to go up to £1.1bn next year, £98m more than in 23/24.
But that would require ‘savings’ of £46million, as well as plans to use £13m of council reserves and to increase council tax by 4.99 per cent.
On Monday (15/1) the proposals were presented to a meeting of the council’s cabinet, with four week’ scrutiny before the full council meets to set the budget on February 13.
Executive member for resources and performance Cllr Bob Deering referred to the ‘difficult’ situation for local government.
But, highlighting the proposed £98m increase in revenue spending to £1.1bn in 24/25 , said these were proposals they could be ‘proud of’.
And he suggested the council was in a much better financial position than many other councils across the country as it had resisted earlier calls by opposition councillors to dip into reserves.
“The national climate for local government finance is very difficult,” he told the cabinet.
“But we are in a much better position than many councils in the country, because we have managed our affairs so well for the last several years.
“And I am bound to say that part of that is that we have resisted calls from the opposition over previous years that we should dig in to our reserves to be spent on various projects.
“Had we given in to those demands the situation facing us today would have been even more challenging than it is.”
As he catalogued elements of the proposals, he highlighted the ‘almost half a billion’ pounds that would be spent looking after adults and the £256m looking after children.
He also pointed to ‘just under £100m’ earmarked for community protection and £140m on growth and environment.
During the debate executive member for sustainable economic growth Cllr Stephen Boulton stressed the overall increase in spending.
And he highlighted the need for the increase in council tax, in order to avoid cuts to services.
He said: “We know that council income is 71 per cent met by the council tax, there is no magic money tree for us.
“And yet the increase is only 2.99 per cent, with another two per cent for adult social care.
“Not an easy decision in difficult times. But it’s essential that we avoid significant cuts which could occur if we were not to see this increase in council tax.”
Council leader Cllr Richard Roberts added: “We have put services first, we have put our residents first and we will find the money and manage the budget accordingly,” he said.
“And I think whilst that puts tremendous pressure and challenge on the organisation, which is Hertfordshire County Council, it also recognises that there is a great deal of need out there.
“And we will meet that need first and then we will worry about quite how we are going to pay for it second.
“That isn’t to say we are in any way complacent. The challenges to meet the savings are as big as ever, but the need of residents must be met.”