East Herts Council considers how best to balance its budget

East Herts Council Office Wallfields
East Herts has released its proposals for the 2024-25 budget and beyond.

These will be considered at a meeting of the council’s Executive on 21 December, followed by Audit and Governance Committee on 30 January, then further reviewed by the Executive with a final decision being made at a Council meeting of all councillors on 28 February.

Real term reductions in government grants, significant inflation and other pressures continue to strain council budgets nationwide and East Herts is no exception. These pressures are expected to create a budget shortfall of £1.179m for the council next year followed by a further £3.551m the year after. This is in the context of the council already having saved £5.3m since 2020 and the 2024-25 council tax increase being restricted to 2.99%.

Councillor Carl Brittain, Executive Member for Financial Sustainability said: “Like all councils, we are facing tough decisions in the months and years ahead to balance our books. Protecting essential services and prioritising our vulnerable residents is our top priority and, in the interests of transparency, we want to ensure that people are aware of the challenges we face in achieving this.”

Savings under consideration include:

  • workforce savings such as a senior management restructuring and a severe reduction on overtime payments;   
  • pausing the development of the arts centre at Old River Lane, while at the same time creating an attractive public space and investing an additional £170,000 in Water Lane Hall to keep it operational.  

To generate additional capital, over and above what the council receives via the council tax, the following are under consideration:

  • renting out part of the council’s Wallfields office in Hertford to a commercial tenant;
  • selling property owned by the council with the target of generating £6m and using the money to repay loans and so reduce revenue interest payments on the borrowing.