Council aims to balance books despite financial pressures
Published 18th January 2022
Phone of money - Pile of Ten and one pounds
East Herts Council has outlined proposals to deliver a balanced budget for the financial year ahead even though pandemic pressures continue.

The council’s proposals set out plans to bridge its budget funding gap, which is set to rise to £3m by 2027. Although the government has announced that ‘core spending power’ of local authorities will increase by an average of 4%, which includes councils levying the maximum council tax increase, for East Herts the increase in core spending power is just 0.03%.

Under consideration are proposals to introduce Sunday charging at usual rates across all council car parks to generate extra income to help support local services.

The council remains ambitious for the district’s future, despite growing spending pressures. The five-year capital spending programme sets aside over £90m for investment in East Herts. This includes the regeneration of Old River Lane in Bishop’s Stortford to deliver a new arts centre, shops, leisure and homes; a revamped theatre, public space and dedicated cinemas for Hertford; and the continued redevelopment of Hartham Leisure Centre.

A below inflation tax rise of 2.9% will help the council keep up with the rising cost of providing services, with proposals to increase the average Band D tax by £5 to £184 a year.

The council is continuing efforts to transform how it delivers services, focused on improved ways of working to generate savings of £1m over the next two years. This will include the better use of technology to create online access to services so residents can do everything they need to on the website 24/7.

Councillor Geoffrey Williamson, Executive Member for Financial Sustainability, said: “We have to make some difficult choices to keep us on a sustainable financial footing, in what has been another challenging year for the public purse.

“With increasing uncertainty ahead we’re doing everything we can to find new ways of saving money and generating income, whilst aiming to protect the services our residents rely on most and providing value for money. 

“We are proud of what we’ve achieved this year – including our unveiling of the new Grange Paddocks Leisure Centre and the support we have been able to provide to local businesses through the pandemic. That investment in our communities will continue as we deliver the new culture, leisure and employment opportunities our residents want to see now, and for the future.”

The council’s Audit and Governance Committee will consider the proposals on 25 January ahead of Full Council on 1 March.