Huntingdonshire District Council’s (HDC) 2022/2023 budget was presented at a meeting of the Full Council on Wednesday 23 February and approved for the forthcoming financial year.

The new financial plan sets out how the council will continue to provide vital frontline services as well as support businesses and residents in the medium to long term recovery from COVID-19. The budget also outlines how the council will progress an ambitious programme of town centre improvements across the district’s market towns.

Highlights include:

  • £1 million investment in our parks, nature reserves and open spaces

  • £870,000 into street cleansing to keep our district green and clean

  • £2.9 million towards our waste management service

  • £100,000 to fund a street outreach service to help prevent rough sleeping

  • £1.5 million investment in upgraded facilities Hinchingbrooke Country Park.

To enable the council to carry on providing vital statutory services, Huntingdonshire Band D Council Tax is set to go up by £5 a year to £150.86 for a Band D property from the new financial year starting on 1 April 2022. The rise, which amounts to 10p a week, or 3.4%, means that the average household will only pay a total of £2.90 a week for all the services provided by Huntingdonshire District Council.

Of the 181 non-metropolitan district councils across England, Huntingdonshire District Council had the 18th lowest Council Tax charge for 2021/22. Last year, we were also one of just 19 district councils in the entire country to freeze its Council Tax as the country was facing one of the worst phases of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cllr Jonathan Gray, Executive Councillor for Strategic Finance, said: "The COVID-19 pandemic has continued to throw challenges our way over the last 12 months, but our strong and prudent financial management over many years has enabled us to produce a balanced budget that protects the services we deliver to our residents and businesses.

"As we collect council tax on behalf of Cambridgeshire County Council, the police, fire and town/parish councils we keep just 7p of every £1 of council tax collected.

"Huntingdonshire residents still pay less council tax than the residents of neighbouring South Cambridgeshire, Cambridge City and Fenland. The amount residents pay for HDC’s services has only risen by 25p a week since 2018.

"We remain committed to providing high quality frontline services as well as prioritising the economic development of Huntingdonshire to boost jobs and prosperity for our residents. Our capital investment plan is dominated by town centre regeneration projects, recognising that we must support our market towns into a post-pandemic world, with new ways of operating in order to empower residents and businesses to thrive and succeed in the 21st century."

Cllr Ryan Fuller, Executive Leader of the council, added: "Despite the ongoing pressures caused by the pandemic and the impact on the council’s finances, this balanced budget protects the interests of local taxpayers and maintains the excellent services that the people of Huntingdonshire rely on us to continue to provide, as we have done throughout the pandemic.

"Over the coming year, our pandemic recovery work will continue and will ensure that we are laying the foundations for a stronger future for everyone across the district by investing in enhancing our local environment, creating employment opportunities, providing health and wellbeing initiatives, offering a helping hand to those most in need and delivering support to local businesses.

"Our ambitions for our market towns, are without limit and our budget continues to champion Huntingdonshire as a great place to live, work and invest. We have now brought together £16.3 million of new investment to support and enhance St Neots town centre, and this work, and similar plans for Huntingdon, St Ives and Ramsey, will gather momentum as the year progresses.

"We will also continue at pace to enhance and improve our local environment. We recently adopted the aspiration of a net carbon zero Huntingdonshire by 2040. Our residents will be at the heart of this as we renew our Environment and Climate Strategy this year.

"Our vision over the next 12 months is ambitious but achievable. As a provider of vital services, we always strive for the best and we will continue to ensure that our residents are getting value for money with the services we provide."