Our services affect the lives of every Hertfordshire resident, business and community. We act as an advocate on our residents’ behalf and deliver a wide variety of services that make a positive impact to the areas where people live.
As with all county councils, we continue to face significant financial constraints. Since 2010 we have made savings of almost £334 million from our annual budget and we when we started our planning for future years budgets back in the Spring, we identified a need to make further savings of £90 million per annum by 2023.
In order to tackle these issues, we know we must continue to find innovative ways to improve and to reduce our costs, whilst maintaining a keen focus on our primary purpose - delivering high quality services that enhance the lives of our residents. Based on feedback from previous surveys we are continuing to transform the way we work using new technology; investing in our staff to allow them to be more flexible in the way they work, as well as rationalising our property holdings to enhance our overall efficiency.
However, we are approaching a point where further efficiencies are becoming increasingly difficult to identify and deliver.
The improved funding recently announced from central government, along with decisions made by the county council, has helped close the council’s anticipated funding gap for 2020/21.
The council continues to work hard to manage the financial pressures it faces. To ensure next year’s funding deficit remains as low as possible we would need to consider raising the overall Council Tax level by 2%. Doing so will reduce the need for the council to cut spending on key services.
In addition, the council is also considering whether to increase council tax by a further 2% (through what is known as the Social Care Precept) to help support adults with physical and mental disabilities, carers and older people.
If we are unable to increase council tax and include the additional Social Care Precept, as indicated above, the funding gap for next year would rise to £31 million. This would result in the council having to significantly reduce its level of spending, preventing the council from maintaining its current level of service delivery.
Further pressures have meant we have had to spend more on delivering our services. This includes:
- Inflation – Increase in rates for utility bills, business rates, pay and contracts increased our costs by £10.7 million.
- Legislative - Legislation concerning the National Living Wage has resulted in our costs increasing by £4.2 million. Other unavoidable costs including changes in what we are required to do by law meant we have to spend a further £20.8 million.