Report of the Executive Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) presenting a first view of the General Fund revenue budget for 2017/18.
Members asked how the Government’s austerity measures will affect the Council’s budget, as the deficit continue to impact on local authorities. It was noted that the Borough Council proposes to increase the average Band D Council Tax rate by £5 and that this was the first increase in eight years.
There will be a cut in grants to parish and town councils following the decline in grant income from central government. The core grant from Government is set to drop by 18% to £3.3m.
The Executive Director (Resources, Environment & Cultural Services) explained that the business rates pooling regime for Hertfordshire has collapsed for 2017/18 but it would have a minimal impact on the 2017/18 budget. The other change to the budget recently is the impact of the triennial pension fund valuation on the 2017/18 budget, now that the valuation covers both the Housing Trust and the Council. It was noted that a decision will be made by Cabinet next week regarding the options to address the pension deficit, which will lead to a few minor changes to the budget.
A question was asked about possible funds being available for youth projects. It was explained that the 2017/18 budget includes a youth and sport budget. Members expressed concern regarding reduction in some grants for voluntary organisations that represent value for money and any review of grants should be viewed in this light. It was advocated that a reduction would have an impact on the valuable service that our Voluntary sector provides, who is already facing difficulties finding volunteers to provide their service.