Vital services protected as North Northants budget tackles the challenges of a tough economic climate and increasing need for servicesFinance
13 December 2023
Protecting and investing in our local frontline services against a backdrop of continued national financial uncertainty is the focus of North Northamptonshire Council’s budget proposals for the next financial year.
A report to be discussed at Executive on December 21 - will propose a balanced revenue budget for 2024/2025 as well as outline the medium-term financial plan for the following three years.
A commitment to maintain vital service provision has seen the Council invest an additional £53.4million into services, including adult social care and children’s services to protect the most vulnerable in our communities and address a growing need for services.
These pressures are, in part, offset by savings, efficiencies and further income of £18.5m. Taken together with an improvement in funding expected from business rates, Council Tax and government grants the Council has been able to set a balanced budget for 2024/2025.
The Council will also be proposing a programme of capital investment totalling £163.5m over the four-year period 2024-28 across a number of schemes including investing over £49.1m into highways, £12.2m for schools, £10.7m to support disabled facilities, £9.1m in improving digital infrastructure, £2.7m from the Corby Town Fund and £2.9m for Electrical Vehicle infrastructure.
Council fees and charges will also be reviewed for 2024-2025 and set in accordance with the Council’s constitution.
The proposed net revenue budget for 2024/2025 is £371.5 million. This money provides a range of services to residents and businesses across the area including care to vulnerable adults and children, education, the disposal and collection of waste, highways maintenance, economic development, housing and support for those that are homeless.
Getting our finances right and working hard to bring financial stability is the cornerstone of continuing to deliver services to the people of North Northamptonshire.Cllr Jason Smithers, Leader of the Council
Recent years have seen challenging economic conditions globally, which obviously affects us nationally and then locally too – so to navigate those choppy waters is really very difficult.
What we’ve focused on is balancing the budget without significantly reducing services and I’m proud that we have a draft budget that proposes just that.
We want to create the conditions where people can build brighter, better futures and our local businesses have the opportunity to grow and flourish, bringing job opportunities and building prosperity.
I’m proud of what we’re achieving in North Northamptonshire and delighted that we can maintain quality services, which our residents truly deserve.
The budget is not just about how to manage within available resources but also where funding should be invested, recognising residents’ priorities and working with partners to jointly develop service delivery proposals, giving families strength and self-reliance so they will benefit from greater self-determination and improved life chances.
There is a balance to be maintained between encouraging growth, providing high quality universal services and protecting those that are the most vulnerable.
Government has permitted local authorities to increase the Council Tax rate by 4.99%, including 2% for the adult social care precept, in recognition of the difficult financial climate and increased inflationary pressures.
The authority is proposing an increase allowed by Government in council tax of 4.99%.
This increase would contribute around an additional £9.5m per year towards inflationary and demand lead pressures to enable services to be maintained and would represent a Band D level of Council Tax for North Northamptonshire Council of £1,740.22 for 2024/2025.
This is an annual increase of £82.71 (equivalent to £1.59 per week) from the Band D Council Tax level set in 2023/2024.
Around 57% of properties in North Northamptonshire are in Council Tax Bands A and B which will see an annual increase of £55.14 (equating to £1.06 per week) and £64.33 (£1.24 per week) respectively.
Increasing Council Tax has the advantage of providing stable funding for the future, helping to further protect services.
This Band D figure does not include the Council Tax for individual Town and Parish Councils or the Council Tax set for Fire and Police by the Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.
There is no change to the Local Council Tax Support Scheme which will continue at 25%.
The Council is facing significant financial challenges from both high inflation and increasing demand.Cllr Jason Smithers, Leader of the Council
To help safeguard the vital services provided to our communities, both now and into the future, we are seeking to increase Council Tax by 4.99%. However, we also recognise the challenge that the current economic climate poses to our residents. To help those that are struggling we offer a Council Tax Support Scheme and will be available, as always, to speak with our residents who may be experiencing difficulties.
Housing Revenue Account
The Housing Revenue Account (HRA) is a separate ring-fenced account within the Council for the income and expenditure associated with its housing stock.
The HRA does not directly impact on the Council’s wider general fund budget or on the level of council tax. Income to the HRA is primarily received through the rents and other charges paid by tenants and leaseholders.
This year’s HRA proposal is for a balanced budget for the two Neighbourhood Accounts.
There is also a proposed rent increase of 7.7% for the next financial year, which accords with the Government’s rent setting policy for 2024/2025. Any funding received by the HRA is retained within the HRA and will be used to support housing improvements and maintenance.
The draft revenue budget will be discussed at a meeting of the Executive on December 21 and, if approved, a consultation on the proposals will start the same day, running until midnight on January 26.
The Executive will then meet on February 8 to consider final budget proposals for recommendation to Full Council on February 22.