Significant challenges ahead as council looks to tackle increasing financial pressure
Published 17th October 2022
Ten pound notes laid out underneath pound coins
East Herts District Council has joined local authorities across the country in confirming stark financial forecasts, as it seeks to cope with steep price hikes and rising levels of inflation.

A report to be considered by the council’s Executive on Tuesday, 25 October, suggests it is facing at least £4m worth of extra financial pressure over the next few years and currently forecasts a budget deficit of £0.8m in 2023/24, £1.9m in 2024/25 and £2.1m in 2025/26.

The council has saved over £5m since 2020 and is continuing efforts to transform how it delivers services, focused on improved ways of working to generate savings. However, the unprecedented pressure on already stretched budgets has forced the council to look at how it provides all services, particularly discretionary services, which currently cost the council to deliver.

This includes proposals to change charging tariffs in council car parks following consultation earlier in the year. After careful consideration of the feedback received, the council’s Executive will review a revised set of plans, which seek to balance financial constraints with the concerns raised. The report recommends deferring the removal of free parking periods, introducing Sunday charging – but at a flat ‘all day’ rate – and putting evening charges in place up to 8pm.

One of the council’s biggest areas of expenditure, waste collection, will also be in the spotlight on Tuesday evening as councillors consider several service changes, including the introduction of weekly food waste collections. This would divert food waste, which decays and produces odour more quickly, from the black bin so that non-recyclable waste can be collected every three weeks. As well as reducing waste and increasing recycling levels, the move will help the council cope with an expected cost increase of up to £1.5m.

Councillor Geoffrey Williamson, Executive Member for Financial Sustainability at East Herts, said: “Over the coming months, our top priority is to consider how best to meet the scale of the financial challenge that lays ahead; it is a position that we share with councils everywhere.

“As we look to agree changes to parking and waste collections next Tuesday, we are taking a step towards that, but we know that balancing our budget in the years to come will require tough decisions to be made.

“In facing these difficult choices, it is vital that we keep listening to our communities, as we have on the parking plans, so that we continue to protect the services our residents rely on most and shape a better future for our district together.”

The full agenda for the Executive meeting on Tuesday 25 October, including reports on the Medium Term Financial Plan, revised parking proposals and waste collections, can be found online.