Council Tax levels for Huntingdonshire District Council will remain one of the lowest in the country. Councillors considered the budget at its Council meeting last night (Wednesday 21 February) and supported an increase of just 2% for 2018/19. A Council Tax increase of 2% will mean that an average Band D property will pay £138.56, the lowest of the Cambridgeshire District Councils. 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.
Councillor 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 3.0% (CPI, January 2018). A 2% increase equates to £2.72 per year for a Band D property, and for most residents it will be less than this; which is considerably less than the additional £59.40 per year that residents will have to pay to Cambridgeshire County Council and £11.97 to the Police Authority.
In due course the council will be issuing Council Tax bills to all its residents and an average Band D property will total £1,753.39 of which this council’s charge is only 7.9%. Further, as shown in the graph below, this council’s 2% increase is the lowest of all the local authorities that will be charging local residents.
However, we do continue to face some tough challenges ahead with Central Government reducing our grant next year, but with some grant disappearing altogether the year after. 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 continue to work hard 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 increasing levels of 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 that 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: “The council has followed a robust budget setting process to ensure that every pound is accounted for. Between 2017/18 and 2018/19, there has only been a £71,000 net increase (less than ½ %) in service expenditure; the council has been able to ensure that it continues to provide essential services to its residents in the most cost effective way possible. 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, government support in the form of 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. The budget also includes in excess of £1.1m of commercial income that it has generated since it approved the Commercial Investment Strategy Business Plan in December 2015; this equates to a Council Tax increase of in excess of 13%. In addition the council is currently undertaking a service transformation programme that will fundamentally review of all that we do to focus on what our customers need, and how we deliver them in the most cost-effective manner. I believe this budget strikes the right balance between protecting the interests of the taxpayer and investing in key services that the people of Huntingdonshire rely upon us to provide.”
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, as approved by Council on 21 February 2018, will be £138.56 per year (based on a Band D property).