Council tax to rise in North Herts after £2.2 million COVID-19 shortfall

Cllr Martin Stears-Handscomb, leader of North Herts District Council.

Cllr Martin Stears-Handscomb, leader of North Herts District Council. - Credit: NHDC

Council tax is set to rise in North Herts for the 2021/2022 budget, due to a predicted £2.2 million shortfall of income and additional expenditure because of COVID-19.

In a meeting of North Herts District Council yesterday, councillors agreed to draw on financial reserves to meet the shortfall.

The budget also included the council's commitment to ensuring the future of leisure centres which were forced to close during lockdown, and to provide an additional £50,000 to support the work of Citizens Advice North Herts.

There will be an increase in council tax by £5 per year for a band D property, which is approximately a 2.1 per cent increase for all properties.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, council leader Cllr Marin Stears-Handscomb said: "The fact that the government has left us short forces us to raise council tax more than we would like.

"Yes, it’s only a £5 a year or 10p a week increase. But the point is that our residents are paying more for this council to have less to provide the services they rely on.

"Nevertheless, we will continue to keep our residents safe and ensure that as we come out of the pandemic we build back better.

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"That includes working with greater determination in responding to the climate emergency and doing all we can to make sure no-one in our community is left behind.”

Cllr Ian Albert, executive member for finance at North Herts District Council

Cllr Ian Albert, executive member for finance at North Herts District Council - Credit: NHDC

Cllr Ian Albert, NHDC executive member for finance, said: “We are currently going through very difficult and uncertain times.

"Like most local authorities across the country, our resources and finances are stretched to their limits due to the coronavirus pandemic. Government support has been welcome but has not covered the full extent of our losses.

“While the full financial impact of this over the long-term is not yet known, in the short-term there is a significant shortfall in our finances. This continued financial uncertainty unfortunately means that we will need to raise the council tax rate in April.

"This increase will enable us to continue to deliver the high quality of service, that the people of North Hertfordshire deserve and expect from us, and this includes our commitment to maintain vital leisure services and swimming pools across the whole district.”

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