Ambitious budget proposals put forward - including a possible rise in council tax - as Harborough District Council looks to tackle significant financial challenges ahead

Reduction in Government grants and the pandemic have left the council with an annual budget gap of around £4million

Wednesday, 20th January 2021, 2:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th January 2021, 2:48 pm

Ambitious budget proposals have been put forward - including a possible rise in council tax - as Harborough District Council looks to tackle significant financial challenges over the year ahead.

Harborough District Council (HDC) has set out its budget priorities for 2021/22 as it looks to address an annual budget gap of around £4million.

The council said that the £4million gap has resulted from the ever-increasing demand for services, reductions in Government grant, and 'unavoidable cost increases'.

Ambitious budget proposals have been put forward - including a possible rise in council tax - as Harborough District Council looks to tackle significant financial challenges over the year ahead.

A spokesperson for HDC said: "On top of this, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has meant the council has lost significant revenue and had to provide services in new and innovative ways, with a cost to the council of approximately £2.3m.

"Whilst this cost has been partly met by direct government support, it still leaves a deficit to the council of nearly £1million (£976,000).

"To address these challenges, in 2020 the council launched Budget Challenge 2025 (BC25) which aims to ‘transform’ services, and ensuring that sufficient financial resources are allocated to key priority areas.

"Savings have been, and are continuing to be, identified in all Council service areas. The council will also look at opportunities to provide long-term income to boost financial sustainability and resilience."

Proposals have also been put forward to increase Harborough District Council’s share of the council tax by £5 a year, per Band D household, in the Harborough district.

This is currently the maximum amount permitted by Government.

Yesterday (January 19) Harborough District Council’s Cabinet recommended the proposals to go to council for consideration in February.

In the meantime, residents and businesses can have their say on the proposals until Monday February 1.

Councillor James Hallam, Harborough District Council’s deputy leader and cabinet lead for finance, said: “Like many councils across the UK, we have significant financial challenges which need to be addressed if we are to put forward a balanced budget.

"Positively, this council has an excellent record of transforming its services to increase efficiency and we are working across the council to achieve this.

"With this aim, we will invest in ICT to improve services for our customers, as well as other key areas which are important to residents such as CCTV, disabled facilities grants, housing and homelessness schemes, leisure, open spaces and play areas.”

The council will continue with its Capital Programme, over the next four years, which will see investment in local projects totalling more than £12million.

To have your say on the budget, and find out more about the proposals, visit www.harborough.gov.uk/consultation until February 1.

Following feedback from the public, Harborough District Council will approve the budget at its Council meeting on February 22.