Council tax increase: Hertfordshire County Council budget proposals would up council tax by maximum 3.99%

Leader of the county council has defended the plans to increase council tax levels by the maximum that is allowed

By Deborah Price, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Monday, 17th January 2022, 10:22 am
Updated Monday, 17th January 2022, 12:27 pm

Hertfordshire County Council has drawn up plans to increase its share of Council Tax bills by the maximum amount allowed, as part of its 2022/23 budget proposals.

If the proposals are approved – next month (February) – that would mean an increase of 3.99 per cent.

It would include a 1.99 per cent general increase – which is the maximum increase allowed without needing to hold a referendum.

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Hertfordshire County Council budget proposals would up council tax by maximum 3.99 per cent

And it would include a further two per cent increase that would be ring-fenced for adult social care.

For an average Band D property, the county council element of the Council Tax would increase by £58.68 – to £1,529.31.

Band A properties would pay £1,019.54, an annual increase of £39.12 – and top-rate Band H properties would pay £3,058.62.

In addition Council Tax bills also include additional sums set by the relevant district, borough or parish council and the police authority.

So the bills that come through letterboxes across Hertfordshire in March will be higher.

According to the proposals, the county council intends to set a balanced budget.

And it has general reserves in excess of £52m – with a further £180m in earmarked reserves.

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But leader of the county council Cllr Richard Roberts has defended the plans to increase council tax levels by the maximum that is allowed, without a referendum.

He says that he recognises the ‘real pressures’ on residents budgets – pointing to cost of living, food and energy hikes.

But he says he has a responsibility to those who are most vulnerable.

And he said that without the planned increase – which he stresses ‘is still below inflation’ – the county council would not ‘be able to meet the pressures of services’.

Pointing to the two per cent increase ring-fenced for social care, he said: “There is real hardship and real concern – I recognise that.

“But I have an absolute responsibility to ensure that our most vulnerable residents – those with learning difficulties and physical disabilities, those frail elderly and those in care or nursing homes – have care workers to look after and support for them.

“And half of the council tax increase will just be going to support care workers and caring for our residents.”

As part of the budget-setting process the county council will consult with the public.

And Cllr Roberts says that in the past residents have been clear that they want the focus of the budget to be on the provision of services.

“3.99 per cent increase is still a significant council tax rise – and I understand that that will hit some residents hard,” he said.

“In last year’s consultation, our residents were really clear that they wanted us to focus on front-line services.

“They didn’t want us to cut services – and that resonates again this year.”

He later added: “We are delivering an awful lot more care and that’s one of the reasons we need to put council tax up as much as we do.”

And he said: “We wouldn’t take a pound off residents unless we absolutely needed to.”