Council balances books despite COVID-19 pressures
Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council has outlined proposals to deliver a budget for the financial year ahead, with no cuts to frontline services despite the impact of COVID-19 on several of its income streams.
The council's proposals set out plans to bridge its budget funding gap, including £960k in efficiency savings from service reviews as part of an ongoing modernisation programme.
The council will receive a new lower tier services grant of £124k to help fund increasing pressures on local services provided at district level, such as homelessness, planning, recycling and refuse collection, and leisure services. Core grant funding from central government will continue to reduce as it has in previous years.
The five-year capital spending programme sets aside over £18m for investment in town centre regeneration, the revitalisation of High View neighbourhood centre in south Hatfield, a new crematorium and the redevelopment of Tewin Road depot in WGC in partnership with Hertfordshire County Council.
The council will invest more than ever in providing affordable homes, with over £70m reserved for the Affordable Housing Programme and over £52m put aside for investment in existing council housing stock.
A council tax rise (1.97%) will help the council keep up with the rising cost of providing services, with proposals to increase the average Band D tax by £4.23 to £219.15 for 2021/22.
Councillor Duncan Bell, Executive Member for Resources, said:
Thanks to our ongoing prudent financial management, council finances are in a strong position and coping well with the impact of COVID-19. However, with ever-increasing uncertainty ahead, we must keep finding innovative ways of saving money and generating income whilst protecting the services our residents rely on.
In what has been an extraordinary year, I'm really proud of what we have still managed to achieve for our communities, including supporting them through the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns, the launch of Splashlands, unveiling HatTech Business Centre and giving more local families keys to their new, affordable homes.
That investment in our communities will continue as we strive to make a positive difference and help make Welwyn Hatfield an even better place to live, work and spend time.
The council's Cabinet will consider the 2021/22 budget proposals at a meeting on Monday 5 January.