Council Tax in Welwyn Hatfield could rise to save £1.55m

PUBLISHED: 16:58 08 August 2012




COUNCIL Tax could be increased in Welwyn Hatfield next year, as part of plans to find £1.55m in savings.

A review of the Welwyn Hatfield Council’s medium term financial strategy was discussed by cabinet members at a meeting last night (Tuesday).

The report outlined the authority’s fiscal pressures up to 2015, and set out the framework for the 2013/14 budget process.

In particular, it highlighted an estimated savings target of £1.55m, to be found by the 2013/14 financial year.

Although the council’s financial position is relatively strong – reserves stood at almost £5m at the beginning of this year – officers have warned that the borough will continue to be effected by the Government’s public spending cuts.

And after accepting the Government’s one-off council tax freeze grant this year, Welwyn Hatfield Council may be forced to raise the tax for the first time in three years in order to meet the new target.

The report reads: “The Government has confirmed the one-off nature of the 2012/13 freeze grant and it is now evident that the council can no longer afford to support the council tax freeze without drawing down from the general reserves.”

The report assumed an average council tax increase for a Band D property at 2.5 per cent, with an underlying growth in the band D taxbase at 1 per cent.

Speaking after the meeting, councillor Alan Franey, deputy leader and executive member for resources, said: “In order to meet the identified saving of £1.55m the council must consider a range of measures.

“Again this year, the council will continue to review how savings can be made internally, while protecting services to the public.

“However, we must also consider that together with the reduction in government funding, the recession is also impacting the council’s income streams, for example, garage rents and car parking income.

“We will, therefore, be reviewing all streams of income as part of our consultation process that begins later this month.”

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