2.99 per cent council tax rise confirmed as Northampton Borough Council budget is agreed

Northampton residents will pay an extra 2.99 per cent in council tax to the borough council this year, after the authority’s budget for 2019/20 was agreed last night.

Tuesday, 26th February 2019, 10:13 am
Updated Tuesday, 26th February 2019, 11:25 am
The borough council agreed its budget on Monday evening at The Guildhall

The maximum permitted rise is one of the headline figures for what is likely to be Northampton Borough Council’s last ever budget, with it set to be replaced by a new unitary authority for West Northamptonshire next year.

It means the average Band D property in Northampton will pay an extra £6.56 this year, which works out at an additional 13p per week. The rise will net the borough council an extra £448,000.

Controversial plans to increase parking charges are also set to generate extra revenue of £625,000, although those plans are still subsequent to consultation.

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But the borough council is also investing £135,000 to continue the Northampton emergency night shelter, has allocated an additional £1million to tackle homelessness and temporary accommodation, and says it has slashed business rates to save up to 3,000 businesses more than £3million.

Cabinet member for finance Brandon Eldred said this was ‘a balanced budget that doesn’t require any service reductions or staff redundancies’.

But Labour leader Danielle Stone said that while the budget was deliverable, it ‘does nothing to ensure the longer-term sustainability or the regeneration of this town’.

Amendments from both Labour and the Liberal Democrats were rejected by the Conservative administration.

The Labour amendment suggested using £500,000 allocated for the change to the unitary authority be spent elsewhere, as the party ‘fundamentally disagreed with this spend’ as it feels Northampton should be a unitary in its own right. It suggested that it should be spent instead on an all-weather sports pitch in Kings Heath.

But Councillor Eldred said that any extra facilities in Kings Heath should be funded by developers building thousands of new homes nearby.

And the Liberal Democrats proposed using £350,000 of capital funds to provide immediate temporary accommodation for the homeless, and £100,000 of revenue funds to build a temporary day centre for rough sleepers during the three months of worst weather in the year. The party said that the funds could come from reserves.

Lib Dem leader Sally Beardsworth said: “This is a small thing to ask for. It’s chicken feed in terms of a £30million budget.”

But Councillor Eldred said that partners such as the Hope Centre already offered services for homeless people.

And Conservative council leader Jonathan Nunn said: “This is a sensible amendment, but we cannot support it. We are re-organising the homelessness team and investing in tackling homelessness. This doesn't require an extra £350k from reserves to achieve the same aim."

But Councillor Beardsworth said that the amendment was to 'act now' as current council policy was making it slow in tackling the change.

The budget has been delivered against ever-shrinking funding from central government. The total grants from Westminster to Northampton Borough Council has reduced from £18.743m in 2010 to £6.722m in 2019.