‘Your council tax bills to rise as your services are cut’, claim Hertfordshire Lib Dems

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Audit Committee met on September 30

Hertfordshire Liberal Democrats claim that Hertfordshire County Council is preparing to increase your council tax and cut services next year.

But Leader of the Council Richard Roberts confirmed that Hertfordshire County Council has already balanced the books for this financial year reassuring residents that its more than 500 services are maintained.

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Cllr Roberts said: “The war in Ukraine has increased pressures on finances for everyone, our council is no different but we are planning now for next year and we will continue to look after our most vulnerable, fix the roads and support the voluntary sector so that we all get through this together.”

The council say that no discussions about council tax for the next financial year (2023/24) have yet taken place.The council say that no discussions about council tax for the next financial year (2023/24) have yet taken place.
The council say that no discussions about council tax for the next financial year (2023/24) have yet taken place.

At an Audit Committee meeting on September 30 councillors were reminded that the council is facing budget deficits in future years.

This is something that the Lib Dems say is likely to increase as a result of the government’s disastrous ‘mini-budget’.

According to the council’s website, there will be a council tax increase for 2022/23.

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It said: “Our council tax increase works out to be just over £1 extra a week for the average household, which will be invested into vital services.”

Hertfordshire County Council says that no discussions about council tax for the next financial year (2023/24) have yet taken place.

The committee heard that the chances of financial problems at County Hall have increased in recent weeks and it is uncertain whether the government will respond to the challenges the council faces.

A report to the Audit Committee stated that the risk to council services was severe, the highest risk the committee has seen.

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Director of Finance Steven Pilsworth confirmed that, in his view, the risk has increased since the report was drafted earlier last month.

Herts Lib Dems believe that the effects of inflation and the financial incompetence of the Conservative government mean the council will almost certainly have to consider which services it has to cut.

Lib Dem councillor Paul Zukowskyj said that global financial issues were already a major challenge for the finances of the County Council, with serious difficulties ahead.

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Cllr Zukowskyj said: “Now, because of the staggering levels of recklessness shown by Liz Truss and her Conservative government, we face large increases in council tax and the services we’re paying for will get worse or even disappear altogether.

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“The Conservative’s claim of financial competence is now shown for what it really is, a pure fantasy that will cost council taxpayers dear.”

Hertfordshire County Council explained: “There is a formal process for budget setting and Hertfordshire County Council will set the final budget in February next year for the 2023/24 financial year.

“Before this process, a public consultation and public panel committee meetings take place in relation to every directorate spending ambitions with associated costs.”

A spokesperson for the council continued: “Budgets are agreed based on what is the highest priority, aligned to the corporate plan, and achievable with the total income that the council has – from council tax, grants, bid for funds and income.

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“The amount of council tax levied is something set firstly within parameters from central government.

They added: “The financial settlement will be due out in early winter and until that information is known the council will regularly report back on its financial health which is being closely monitored.”