Council Tax levels for Huntingdonshire District Council are proposed to remain one of the lowest in the country. The draft budget being put forward for councillors’ consideration proposes an increase of 2%, £2.66 per year for a Band D property. However, most residents in Huntingdonshire will pay less than this as two-thirds of residents live in a property rated in a lower Council Tax band.
Due to the current economic climate, the council is faced with reduced government funding levels for 2018/19 compared to previous years, followed by further significant reductions in 2019/20. This means that further savings through efficiencies will need to be found over the next 12 months in preparation for the challenge ahead. Budget proposals are set to be discussed by councillors at Huntingdonshire District Council over the coming weeks.
Cllr Graham Bull, Executive Leader of the Council said: "The council continues to work extremely hard to ensure that it runs its services to the maximum efficiency. Through sound financial management, we have drafted a budget which means that residents will see an increase in Council Tax of 2% in 2018/19. This is considerably less than inflation which currently stands at 3.1%. A 2% increase equates to £2.66 for a Band D property, and for most residents it will be less than this. However, we do face some tough challenges ahead; we know funding from central government continues to be reduced both for next year but also in future years and we need to be prepared for this. Our priority is to maintain the high quality essential services that our residents expect and we are well placed to do this, despite the cuts in funding. We are continuing to work hard now to maximise every opportunity to save money without compromising quality, in order to ensure that we are fully prepared for reduced funding levels in future years."
Key measures proposed include:
- investment in the front-line staff who continue to tackle homelessness across the district
- commitment to encourage the active participation of our residents in a wide range of high quality sports and leisure services across the district - this means the continued investment in supporting healthy lifestyles across the district
- additional support to ensure the effective delivery of front-line services such as waste collection and planning. This will help to ensure that the council continues to support jobs and services, the district remains somewhere people choose to live and that our towns thrive and continue to attract both shoppers and visitors.
Executive Councillor for Strategic Resources, Jonathan Gray, whose portfolio includes financial forecasting, said: "This budget aims to protect valued services at a time when we, like other councils, continue to face significant reductions in funding. Between this and the next financial year, New Homes Bonus will reduce by 26% and Revenue Support Grant by 49%, with the latter disappearing completely in 2019/20. However, this budget is part of a strategic plan to make this council financially independent of government funding and it is expected that during 2018/19 this objective will be achieved. I believe this budget strikes the right balance between protecting the interests of the taxpayer and maintaining key services that the people of Huntingdonshire rely upon us to provide."
The Draft 2018/19 Budget will be presented to Overview and Scrutiny on 10 January and then Cabinet on 18 January 2018. Consultation with business will start during January. The Final Budget will presented to Overview and Scrutiny in late January, Cabinet on 8th February and then Council on 21 February 2018.
Council Tax is collected by Huntingdonshire District Council on behalf of the county council, police, fire and the town and parish councils. The total amount collected for all services provided by Huntingdonshire District Council in 2018/19, if approved by Council in February 2018, will be £138.56 per year (based on a Band D property).