£5 increase in council tax proposed as Northampton Borough Council unveils draft budget

Northampton residents are set to see their council tax increase by £5 as the borough council unveils its draft budget for 2020/21.

Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 8:17 am
Updated Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 8:18 am
Northampton Borough Council will shortly put its draft budget for 2020/21 out for consultation
Northampton Borough Council will shortly put its draft budget for 2020/21 out for consultation

It is the fourth consecutive rise, meaning average band D homes will now pay £230.84 to the borough council in 2020/21, compared to £207.91 in 2016/17. Prior to that, the levels had been frozen for four years.

If approved, it would see the council rake in a total of £16 million in council tax, a significant portion of its £28.9 million income.

Local authorities are allowed to raise council tax at a maximum of either £5 or 2.99 per cent, anything above those figures would trigger a referendum. The proposed extra £5 is a 2.21 per cent increase, which represents less than the 2.99 per cent rise last year, which worked out at £6.56 extra.

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This would be on top of the proposed 3.99 per cent council tax increase that residents look likely to pay to the county council, and any extra sums that may be requested by the Police and Crime Commissioner and the fire authority.

The draft budget is set to be agreed by the borough council’s cabinet next Monday (December 23) before going out to consultation for residents to share their views on.

With not a penny to spare, the draft budget currently balances exactly. The council appears to be getting roughly £200,000 extra in government funding compared to last year, with £11.7 million coming in through business rates and the New Homes Bonus. It is still vastly down however on the £16 million figure it was in 2014/15.

The council is having to make cuts of roughly £1.4 million for the upcoming financial year to make ends meet. The ‘savings’ that are being proposed include a £90k reduction on grants funding and a £50k cut to its ICT budget.

The biggest saving however is a sum of £300k through an increase in commercial property income. The authority says it will review rents and ‘planned acquisitions’ though does not go into more detail.

Also light on detail is a supposed £200k saving from the environmental services contract with Veolia. Council papers say that ‘various options are being drawn up to reduce existing costs’ but does not detail what these options may be.

All the above savings form part of the council’s ‘revenue’ budget, but the council also has a ‘capital’ budget ring fenced for investment on infrastructure projects. The two pots of money stay separate.

The capital work programme for 2020/21 stands at £47.76 million, with new programmes scheduled for the year including £139k being spent on enhancements and restoration of netball and basketball pitches at the Racecourse; £500k being spent on the Guildhall roof and another £350k on replacement boilers for the NBC headquarters; £200k on extending Blackthorn Community Centre; and £50k on Rectory Farm Community Centre.

Cabinet members are set to approve the consultation when they meet on Monday. Council papers say: “Formal consultation with the public and stakeholders will be launched following the publication of this draft budget and will continue until the budget is formally adopted in February 2020 in line with an agreed consultation programme. An online questionnaire will be available until February 4, and a public meeting will be held on the consultation on January 27.”