Council balances books amidst ongoing financial pressures
The council has outlined proposals to deliver a budget for the 2023-24 financial year with no cuts to frontline services despite the legacy of COVID-19 on income and the impact of inflation and higher utility costs.
Significant savings made as part of a programme of modernisation has helped to balance the books for the year 1 April to 31 March 2024. Over that period, the council is set to deliver a total of £253m capital investment in the borough. This includes:
- Ongoing delivery of new, affordable homes
- Initiatives to cut the council's carbon footprint, including more electric vehicle charging points
- Continued regeneration of both Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City town centres
- A major programme of investment in the planned maintenance of council-owned homes
- A brand new crematorium at the Lawn Cemetery to meet local demand
Despite the significant inflationary pressures on utilities, goods and services, the council is proposing a council tax rise below the rate of inflation, at 2.97%. If approved, this would increase the borough council's portion of the average Band D tax by £6.66 for the year - just over 12p a week - to £230.76 for 2023/24. The council also collects council tax on behalf of the county council, the police and crime commissioner and, where relevant, the town or parish council.
To help ensure there is no impact on essential frontline services, fees and charges are set to be reviewed include parking, garage rental, garden waste collections and allotments.
Councillor Stephen Boulton, Executive Member for Planning Resources, said:
For over a decade, we have faced an increasingly tough challenge to set a balanced budget with minimal impact on our frontline services. We have a record of achieving the majority of this by working more efficiently, and that is the case again this year.
Alongside this, with significant investment planned in affordable and social housing, carbon reduction, our two town centres, and a new crematorium, we are delivering on priorities on which Welwyn Hatfield residents want us to focus.
If approved at Cabinet on 10 January, the 2023/24 budget proposals will be considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 17 January, then a report will go to a Special Cabinet on Tuesday 24 January before a final decision is made by Full Council on 1 February.