Harborough District Council approves proposals to freeze its share of council tax

But the overall council tax bill will still be higher
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Harborough District Council’s share of council tax has been frozen for the next year.

Councillors approved the authority’s 2024/25 budget, which includes no increase in the share of council tax it charges its residents.

This means charges for a band D property will be the same level since 2022/23 (£177.97) for this part of the bill. However, county residents also pay council tax to Leicestershire County Council, some parish councils and the police and fire services, so the overall bill will be higher.

Harborough District Council approved budget proposals including a freeze to its share of the council tax.Harborough District Council approved budget proposals including a freeze to its share of the council tax.
Harborough District Council approved budget proposals including a freeze to its share of the council tax.

Leicestershire County Council, Leicestershire Police and Leicestershire Fire and Rescue are all set to increase their shares of the charge in April, with the county council approving a 4.99 per cent rise. The police have confirmed a maximum increase of £13 per Band D property, meaning an increase of 4.76 per cent. The fire service share is also increasing by thee per cent, meaning an increase of £2.36 a year more for Band D properties.

Further proposals in the district council’s budget also included freezing green bin charges and car parking charges, as well as repeating last year’s free car parking on Saturdays in December. The freeze on charges is possible as the council said it will have £5 million more in its pockets over the next two financial years. It will look to spend some of this money on projects, including a £1 million on grants to parishes and additional waste collection vehicles costing £470,000, while the rest will be put in its reserves to help bridge any funding gaps that might occur in future years.

Proposing the budget, Councillor Mark Graves, Harborough District Council’s cabinet lead for resources said the council had continued to provide high quality services to its residents and businesses through ‘testing times’. He added the spare cash had been generated from a “combination of strong financial leadership that ensured its services were run with value for money and continuous improvement at their core.”

He said he wanted to share the success with residents and, as such, would be freezing council tax next year. He also explained the extra money would be used to provide a town county parish grant scheme, and various funding initiatives including support for young people, leisure, planning and growth. He also said there would be a mix of long-term investments, including community development, investments in waste and developing climate change actions.

He commented: “With this budget we have made sure the council is financially resilient and has a financially sustainable strategy. 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 while delivering our priorities for communities.

“I am delighted that 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.”

However, Conservative Councillor Phil King, proposed an amendment to the proposal, suggesting that council tax should be reduced. His suggestion was to reduce the council tax by £5 for residents, meaning a band D property would be lower than the previous year at £172.97.

He said: “It seems morally right that we ought to share the benefit of the now two years of extensive business rates uplift with our hard-pressed taxpayers. And while the council tax freeze in itself is not to be sniffed at and would mean the Harborough share of council tax in effect remained at the same level for three years, we do think the time is right to give back money to our tax payers.”

During the debate on the amendment, Councillor Taylor said: “I think everyone so far has spoken quite politely. I’m actually quite insulted by this, I work in public sector services and I think the residents want good services from their council. £200,000 is a lot of money across the whole of the district.

“Very vulnerable people need this money, need these services and they need this going forward.”

Councillors voted to reject the amendment.