New West Northamptonshire unitary unveils first ever draft budget - with maximum increase in council tax

The first draft budget for West Northamptonshire Council has been announced - including a maximum rise in council tax.

By Chronicle Reporter
Wednesday, 23rd December 2020, 4:07 pm
Updated Wednesday, 23rd December 2020, 4:09 pm
The new West Northants unitary has published its first ever draft budget.
The new West Northants unitary has published its first ever draft budget.

The proposals will see council tax increased by 4.99 per cent, comprising 1.99 per cent core tax and a three per cent adult social care precept. This is the maximum amount allowed without having to hold a referendum.

It means an average Band D property will pay £1,566.39 from April 1, an increase of £74.45 for the year or £1.43 per week.

The Shadow Executive will also consider the 2021/2022 Housing programme, with the estimated cost of managing and operating the council’s housing stock at £54.7 million, which is funded mainly through housing rents.

The budget includes a proposal, which is subject to consultation, for rent increases in 2021/22 of 1.5 per cent on average for council house tenants. The council does however pledge to deliver up to 200 new homes at a cost of £34.1 million financed from its capital programme.

The council says the budget 'proposes no service reductions and will be taking full advantage of the efficiencies of running one organisation where previously there were four'.

From April 1, West Northamptonshire Council will deliver all the services that used to be delivered from the county council, and the district and borough councils in Northampton, Daventry and South Northamptonshire.

Councillor Rebecca Breese, shadow portfolio holder for finance, human resources and corporate services said: “I’m absolutely delighted to be able to present a prudent budget to the Shadow Executive that sets the path for further improvements in the years ahead – and to build 200 much-needed new homes.”

The impact of COVID - which has been estimated at £12.5 million for the first year - has placed higher demands on services. The authority says that this has 'got in the way of some planned savings this year'.

Councillor Ian McCord, leader of the West Northamptonshire shadow authority, said: “The formation of West Northamptonshire Council is a real opportunity to deliver a fresh start and a bright future with our ambitious plans.

“Uniting the local authorities in the west will bring many strengths and form a new organisation which is greater than the sum of its parts.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic has created significant challenges for us financially and operationally, an enormous amount of effort has gone into coping with this and the COVID-19 response remains our number one priority.”

The draft budget will be discussed at Shadow Executive on January 5 and, if endorsed, the consultation will start the next day. Final budgets proposals will be put to the Shadow Executive again on February 12 before final approval from full council on February 23.