Council Tax levels for Huntingdonshire District Council are set to remain one of the lowest in the country.
Agreed at a meeting of its cabinet on 17 January 2019, the district council’s draft budget proposes a 2.6% increase in the element of Council Tax it charges for its services. This is equal to a rise of £3.60 per year for a Band D property, increasing the total annual rate to £142.16. 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.
The district council’s announcement was made possible having set outs its Draft Revenue Budget for 2019/20, which takes into account all forecasted income and expenditure for the coming financial year.
The increase in Council Tax took into account the district council’s majority group’s manifesto commitment that "Any Council Tax increase will be lower than both the most recent State Pension increases and the average increase in local earnings." In the last financial year, average wage growth to April 2018 was 3.5% in Huntingdonshire, 4.8% in Cambridgeshire, and 2.7% nationally. Additionally, the minimum increase in State Pensions was 2.6%, due to the government’s Triple Lock Policy.
Executive Leader of the Council, Cllr Graham Bull said: "The council continues to work extremely hard to ensure that it runs its services with maximum efficiency. Through sound financial management, we have drafted a budget that means residents will not pay any more in Council Tax than is absolutely necessary. It also means that we have been able to deliver on our manifesto pledge, to keep Council Tax low.”
Cllr Bull added: "It is true that we do face some tough challenges ahead; we know funding from central government continues to be reduced both for next year and potentially in the years thereafter. However, 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."
Other 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.
Cllr Bull, whose cabinet is responsible for 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 25%, and we will no longer receive Revenue Support Grant. However, this budget is part of a strategic plan to make this council financially independent of government funding and this objective is achieved in 2019/20. 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 Final Revenue Budget will be presented to the district council’s Overview and Scrutiny Panel on 5 February, and then its cabinet on 14 February. It will then go before a meeting of full council on 27 February for final consideration. The district council will then be in a position to publish a full list of Council Tax rates by town/parish council area.
Council Tax is collected by Huntingdonshire District Council on behalf of Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridgeshire Police, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority, and Huntingdonshire’s town and parish councils. In 2018/19, the total amount of Council Tax collected from residents for all services provided by the district council was 7.9% of the total Council Tax bill for a Band D property.