Council tax increase set to fund county, borough and police services

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council offices. Picture: Archant

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council offices. - Credit: Archant

Residents in the borough are set to pay more than four per cent in council tax due mainly to the county council and police precepts increasing. 

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council will increase its rate of tax by nearly two per cent while Hertfordshire's police and crime commissioner will increase the precept by over seven per cent - and the county is set to agree nearly four per cent. 

And after taking into account the precepts from parish councils, the average band D council tax for the borough area for 2021/22 is now £1,943.90.

This is an increase of £76.87 or 4.12 per cent and ranges from 4.07 to 4.79 per cent depending on whether you live in Northaw and Cuffley, in the lower end of the council tax scale, or Essendon, the highest paying area. 

Responding to this new rate of tax, Labour leader Cllr Kieran Thorpe cited cuts to adult social care and children's mental health services by the government as the reason there needs to be this increase. 

Cllr Thorpe said: "We need a roadmap away from the continued financial pressure all councils are under to deliver the services our residents pay their taxes for and have every right to expect better from."

Cllr Malcolm Cowan, leader of the Lib Dems, agreed that the county council has to "patch up" social care funding after a lack of funding by the government.    

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He said: "The blame comes from government cutting the grant to the county council and to us. We are not being picked on anymore than the county council is." 

WHBC is a council with no overall control as the opposition, made up of Lib Dems and Labour, have 25 councillors to the Conservatives' 23 councillors. Labour councillors mainly voted against the motion, with two absent from the meeting, while the Lib Dems voted for and abstained and the Conservatives voted for it. 

There was a total of 33 councillors for, 10 against and two abstentions.

The Local Government Association estimates that a further £2.6 billion will be needed to cover the cost pressures and income losses due to COVID-19 in 2020/21. The LGA said this after the government provided new funding for adult and children’s social care as well as homelessness, planning, recycling and refuse collection.