West Northamptonshire Council opens consultations on 2022/23 budget that raises council tax

The consultation will see constituents asked what they think of increased taxes and the schemes they will support

Friday, 24th December 2021, 8:39 am

Consultations have opened for West Northamptonshire Council' s 2022/23 stabilisation budget, which raises council tax in a bid to 'maintain and improve' services.

The consultation opened on the Wednesday (December 22), allowing constituents to voice their concerns, which will then be considered at the full council meeting on February 24, 2022.

Among the most notable policies is of course the increase, in average, council tax by 2.99 percent, comprising 1.99 per cent core tax and a further 1% adult social care precept, which is the maximum amount permitted.

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The rising costs come at a time of dearer fuel, heating and electricity bills, among others.

The council said this rise would contribute around £9.77 million per annum and would represent an average Band D level of Council Tax of £1,613.23 in 2022/23, or the equivalent of £31.02 per week.

Reportedly, these funds will go towards maintaining and improving services, among other goals.

Opposing parties have long criticised the move, believing the funds should come from the Government instead of the pockets of constituents.

But this is not the only area where fees are creeping up.

In efforts to 'harmonise' Council Tax across the West Northamptonshire area, the Council proposes to increase rates even more in certain areas, namely in Daventry (by £62.93 per year), Northampton (£36.24) and South Northamptonshire (£52.23)

Meanwhile those renting council-owned flats could also see their costs going up.

Through the Housing Revenue Account (HRA), the Council has laid out £45 million next year for their new-build and major projects programme, with the stated aim of creating 200 new homes per year up to 2027.

Repairs and improvements on existing housing stock, along with disabled adaptations, will be targeted with the remaining HRA budget.

However, this means the council plans to raise rents in their rented housing by 4.1 percent and charges for garages by 3.1 percent.

The budget proposals for next year are made up of £397.4 million for schools and £336.4 million for all other services they provide.

It is intended to maintain services and standards and it proposes no service reductions.

This is an increase of £42.2 million on the current year, balanced by the aim of improving vital services like social care, refuse collection and recycling, transport, highways, planning and wellbeing.

The key areas supported by the newly added funds are:

-Additional investment in the Highways service, in Refuse and Recycling, Young Driver Training, the Flood Service and the advancement of the sustainability/green agenda.

-The promotion of bus services, as well as project resource for walking and cycling schemes

-Participation in the National Graduate Development Programme

-The creation of an HS2 Marshall post for three years

-To address the 'impact' left from the loss of the Bus Lane camera in the St. James’ area, which fined motorists over £50,000 this year.While the list looks extensive, many have argued this does not make up for the blow to people's incomes. This especially at a time of rising costs and Covid-19 uncertainty.

Danielle Stone, Labour Cllr for Castle ward, said: “Local Government reorganisation and the creation of a unitary authority for West Northants was supposed to bring about a more integrated and cheaper system of local government.

"But we are not seeing that. It is predicted that it will take another four years before all our services are fully integrated and we are seeing year on year costs rising.

"We need to be looking outside of Council Tax and Business rates to fund our services and learn from councils like Cheshire East and Preston how to do that.”

People have until February 1, 2022 to give their feedback on the stabilisation budget, which can be read online. A link at the bottom can be followed to fill out a survey.