Council tax to rise in county after 'extraordinary' year
Sol Buckner, Local Democracy Reporter
- Credit: David Hartnup
Council tax is set to rise across Herts to help with COVID-19 recovery, following a year which has been described as 'extraordinary'.
The 2021/2022 budget was approved in a meeting on February 23, and includes an increase of two per cent for the adult social care precept and an additional 1.99 per cent for general council tax - which equates to an extra £1.08 a week for average band D households.
The county council decided not to take up the option of increasing the adult social care precept to three per cent this year and will instead collect the remaining one per cent next year in 2022/23. The precept funding will be used to help provide support for the vulnerable and for COVID-19 recovery.
Cllr Ralph Sangster, cabinet member for resources and performance, said: “The fact that we are holding this year’s budget debate in virtual reality, is a recognition of the changes we have all had to accommodate in a year, I truly believe, can be described as extraordinary.”
The council tax base is expected to shrink by 0.6 per cent in the coming year, and council tax revenue is projected to fall by £8.8m - a combination of the reduced tax base and shortfalls in the tax receipts for the current financial year.
The budget includes an £11.5 fund for pandemic related and systemic inequalities in service provision, doubling funding for the council’s environment team and a £10m fund to support the overall sustainability programme.
A further £2m was allocated to drive forward an action plan for bids for national environmental programmes, along with new funding to support active travel and a £10m fund to manage the impact of climate change on the county’s highways.
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And a £1m fund will be allocated to maintain the county’s rights of way tracks and footpaths to make sure they remain open to residents who have enjoyed using them during lockdown.
Labour and Liberal Democrat groups unsuccessfully proposed amendments to the budget. The proposed Lib Dem amendment included funding for free school meals, flooding issues, mental health support in schools, tackling inequality, electric vehicle charging points, urban and highway tree planting and cycle routes to join up towns.
Meanwhile Labour's proposed amendment included a community wealth fund, digital provision in schools, wider provision of free school meals, school advisers and mental health councillors for schools, cycleways and footways and climate change initiatives.