‘Sound and prudent’ budgets for the next financial year (2023/24) have been agreed.
The revenue and capital budgets were reviewed at last night’s full council meeting (Wednesday 22 February) following a period of consultation that ran during January and early February.
The budget papers offered a detailed insight into the current economic and other external influences and the challenges we have faced in presenting a balanced budget in light of significant pressures brought by high inflation. They also explain how higher-than-anticipated central government funding has helped in part to offset some of these pressures.
The outcome of the budget decisions means that a resident in a Band D property will pay an average of £198.04 in council tax to us for our services for the year 2023/4 - just 54p per day. This is an 11p increase per week per average household for the coming year.
Portfolio Holder for Finance, Cllr Abhishek Sachdev, explained: "As part of the revenue budget agreement, we have agreed an increase of 2.99 per cent for our share of council tax for this forthcoming financial year. This increase is well below the current rate of inflation (currently at 10.1 per cent) but will be essential to enable us to continue to deliver our range of services for Hertsmere’s residents.
"The continued push for financial sustainability can be seen by the huge contribution made by the council-owned Elstree Film Studios; which now generates over £4m in rent for the council bolstered by the recently-opened Platinum Stages.
“The proposed increase is equivalent to £5.71 for the year (based on the Band D council tax band). This reflects our commitment to doing all we can to minimise the impact on our residents whilst maintaining those services.
“It is always a challenging task to draw up these budgets and the work of our council’s Finance team has been recognised by external auditors who have commented on our ‘sound and prudent’ financial management.”
As part of the agreed revenue budget, a pay settlement for our workforce of a five per cent increase or £2,000 (whichever is the greater) was also approved at the meeting. This ensures that those at the lower end of the pay scale receive a higher percentage pay award.
Cllr Sachdev commented: “The pay settlement has been a crucial consideration given the current cost of living pressures. We’ve had to focus on what is affordable whilst also ensuring our hard-working staff receive a settlement that supports them through the current financial challenges and enables us to remain competitive in the recruitment market.
“We have listened to the views of staff through a consultation exercise in order to reach this final settlement.”
The proposed council tax charge will fund key services including waste and recycling; local planning; housing; parks and open spaces; street cleaning and environmental health; benefits administration and contributions towards Police Community Support Officers and Citizens Advice.
As a billing authority, we collect the council tax every year, but the money residents pay does not all go to us. On average, we get just 10 per cent, or 10p in every £1 you pay, Hertfordshire County Council gets 77 per cent, Hertfordshire's Police and Crime Commissioner gets 11 per cent and areas with a parish or town council, (Aldenham Parish Council, Elstree and Borehamwood Town Council, Shenley Parish Council and South Mimms and Ridge Parish Council) get two per cent.
To view our budget papers visit the full council meeting agenda (items 8 and 9) here: Agenda for Council on Wednesday, 22 February 2023, 7.30 pm (moderngov.co.uk)
Posted on Thursday 23rd February 2023