Budget proposals for 2017/18 announced
Northampton Borough Council is proposing a small increase in council tax, the first increase in the Borough’s element of the tax for five years, in its draft budget proposals for 2017/18, published today (December 6).
Alongside the proposed increase of £5 a year for a band D property, the Council’s budget puts forward almost £14 million pounds of capital investment in major infrastructure projects such as the St James Mill Link Road, and an investment of more than £100,000 in play equipment across the Borough.
The Borough Council’s budget proposals for the next financial year are set against a background of ongoing work to put the Council on a firm financial footing in the future. Core funding from central government is continuing to decrease and the Borough Council needs to find ways of generating extra income and cutting costs if it is to meet the budget challenges of the future.
Pressures on the Council’s budget are also continuing to grow, with an uncertain economic situation nationally and increased demand for services locally. In the coming year particularly, the Borough Council needs to negotiate a new environmental services contract by June 2018 and both cost increases and regulatory changes mean that this will likely be more expensive than the current waste contract.
The Borough Council has set out an Efficiency Plan, which has been approved by the Government, to ensure that the budget can continue to be balanced over the next four years and to create revenue streams. The Plan will see the Borough Council focus on:
• Economic growth to generate further increases in business rates from additional businesses, council tax from new homes and the new homes bonus
• Working more closely in partnership with other authorities to make savings
• Using council-owned assets to generate income and investing in new assets that will give a return
• Being even more efficient and making further savings in operating costs
In the current financial year, an increase in Council Tax of £5 per year on a band D property, the maximum allowed by the Chancellor, is being proposed to close the gap between cost pressures and income, and balance the budget.
Councillor Brandon Eldred, Cabinet Member for Finance at Northampton Borough Council, said: “Over the last few years we have carried out thorough reviews of the Council’s services and management costs and have budgeted very prudently. That has protected our services from the need to make major savings but we do have to take into account major new areas of expenditure such as the waste contract renegotiation so after careful consideration, we are suggesting an increase in council tax.
“The proposed increase is less than 10p a week for band D households. We are proposing the increase because we need to make sure that we can continue to invest in the town’s infrastructure and core services to ensure that our economy continues to grow at the pace it has been doing in recent years.
“Our efficiency plan, which has been approved by the Government, should then help us deliver increased revenue in the future and enable us to cope with the squeeze in Government funding and enable us to continue to invest in better services and even further growth for Northampton.”
The borough council’s budget proposals for 2017/18 will be discussed by the Cabinet at a meeting at the Guildhall on December 14 and a full public consultation will begin on December 15.