Plans to freeze council tax in Harborough

Harborough District Council says its final budget supports residents with cost-of-living issues and invests into the local area.
Council tax is set to be frozen this yearCouncil tax is set to be frozen this year
Council tax is set to be frozen this year

Harborough District Council is planning to freeze council tax, green bin and parking charges in its upcoming budget.

The authority has released its final budget for the next financial year which it says aims to support residents with cost-of-living issues while investing into towns and parishes.

The proposal – which is set to be discussed at a full council meeting on February 26 – will see council tax remain the same at £177.97 for a Band D property.

The council said that additional business rates income from Magna Park near Lutterworth along with government grant that recognises housing growth has given the financial flexibility to afford these proposals.

In the next financial year, the authority plans to increase planning enforcement and compliance resources, supply sandbags to parishes at risk of flooding and add extra Christmas lights in Market Harborough using a ‘special expenses’ fund. It will also keep free parking on Saturdays throughout December.

Other proposals including supporting health and wellbeing, adding two vehicles to the waste collection fleet and investing £1million in communities. It will also continue work on the new local plan which will shape the future of the district until 2041.

If the budget is given the green light the council says it will continue investing in local projects up to £30million, like the Lutterworth Town Centre Heritage Action Zone, solar farms, temporary homeless provision, and a £6 million investment into improving Harborough and Lutterworth leisure centres.

Harborough District Council resources spokesman Cllr Mark Graves said: “With this budget we have made sure the council is financially resilient and has a financially sustainable strategy.

“I am delighted we have been able to freeze council tax for residents and have received substantial business rates income from Magna Park to enable us to keep delivering great services, secure good growth to benefit everyone in the Harborough district and tackle climate change. I am also happy that we have managed to freeze the cost of the green waste service and car parking charges this year for residents. We have also gone beyond that and are proposing £1 million pound investment back into community projects which we hope will benefit residents in many parishes in the district.”

The authority says it is expecting a surplus until 2026 and then a deficit each year after.

The funding gap was originally due to be around £7.5million up to 20298/29 but following the income from business rates and government funding it is now expected to be more in the region of £3.5million.

The remaining budget gap is due to an expected shortfall in government funding due to a new formula and an expected drop in business rates, as well as a reduced amount of government grants.

Cllr Graves added: “Despite there being inevitable challenges ahead due to reductions in central government funding we are carefully balancing the need to save for the future and set aside reserves to meet future years’ deficits whilst delivering our priorities for communities.”