Council Tax and Budget 2019/20

Published: 15 Jan 2019

Protecting vital frontline services, sound financial management, and responding to the needs of Hertfordshire’s growing population are the key aims of Hertfordshire County Council’s proposed budget for 2019/20, which will be considered by the council’s Cabinet on Monday 21 January.

The draft budget, which sets out the County Council’s spending plans for the new financial year, includes a 2.99% increase (the maximum allowed) for our element of council tax. This equates to an extra 76p a week for average Band D households.

Like other local authorities, Hertfordshire County Council is facing up to the challenges of reduced central government funding, a growing local population and increasing demand for vital support services for disabled and vulnerable children and adults and the elderly.  

The number of over 85s living in Hertfordshire is projected to rise by 137.5% to 67,700 by 2030, with the number of adults with learning disabilities increasing by nearly 15% to 24,200 over the same time frame. The result is further strain on our adult social care spending. We currently spend around £1million a day on these services. At the other end of the age spectrum we are spending significantly more on placements for some of the children and young people in our care, who have more complex needs.

Ralph Sangster, Cabinet Member for Resources and Performance, said:

“We have a strong track record of sensible financial management, tackling potential issues early, but we can’t be complacent. We need not look too far away to find high profile examples of other local authorities where finances haven’t been managed so well, and important frontline services have been affected.

“Our recent budget consultation showed that the majority of residents (67%) would rather see council tax increases than service reductions. While we’d rather not place this extra burden on council tax payers, we have a responsibility to provide timely frontline services to those who need them the most. 

By the end of 2019/20 financial year, we will be saving the equivalent of £335million per year when compared with 2010. This has resulted in savings of almost £2billion since 2010, although we need to save an additional £19million this year and a further £90million by 2022/23. Balancing the books is getting harder every year as it becomes more and more difficult find savings and efficiencies. This is very unlikely to change over the next few years.”

Other key areas highlighted within the budget are:

  • prioritising areas that matter most to residents, including extra investment of £8million in the local road network – that’s the roads most people live on and country lanes;
  • supporting vulnerable people, including investing Hertfordshire’s social care workforce to attract and retain people in vital caring roles
  • funding to ensure we play  a leading role in Hertfordshire through its most significant period of growth since the Second World War new towns era. This includes providing new schools places, transport improvements and contributing towards housing needs through our property company, Herts Living.  

If approved, the budget proposals will be considered by each of the county council’s Cabinet Panels and the Overview and Scrutiny Committee before the final financial recommendations are made by Cabinet on 18 February, for full approval by the County Council on 19 February.