Stevenage councillors agree council tax for 2017/18

02 Mar 2017

Stevenage Borough Councillors have agreed the council’s budget for the next year. Continuing cuts to the grant from the Government combined with the council’s commitment not to cut services in the town mean that an increase in Council Tax is inevitable. At this week’s (28 February) Full Council, councillors agreed that the Council Tax paid to Stevenage Borough Council for a Band D property will go up by £5 a year (2.58%).

Each Band C household will next year pay Stevenage Borough Council £176.46. That’s 48p a day for more than 120 services, including doorstep refuse and recycling collections, parks and play areas, community safety, cemeteries, environmental health, and leisure and cultural facilities such as the Museum.

Since 2010/11, the council has made savings of £8.2million, largely by working more efficiently.

With an increase in Hertfordshire County Council’s element of 4.99%, including a 3% rise for the social care precept, and a 3.4% increase from Hertfordshire Police, council tax levels for Stevenage will increase by 4.53% for 2017/18. For a Band D property, the total council tax charge will be £1,596.35.

From next year, owners of long-term empty homes will be charged 150% of the Council Tax applicable, to encourage them to make the properties available as homes earlier.

Leader of the Council, Cllr Sharon Taylor, told councillors: “Our priority is always to maintain our services rather than cut them. Over the past five years of stringent Government cuts, we’ve been able to do this by finding innovative ways of generating income and making efficiencies, but that can only take us so far and so, regrettably, we will still have to increase Council Tax for Stevenage residents.
“We have kept the increase to a minimum. Stevenage people will pay this council around 50p a day for more than 120 services.”

Stevenage Borough Councillors also heard about proposals to spend this year’s New Homes Bonus.

Cllr Taylor said: “We have had another successful year of new homes in Stevenage but, disappointingly, our reward for this has been reduced by the Government. The £1.2m we’ve been allocated this year will be spent on initiatives that support our co-operative principles.

“In our neighbourhoods, we’re contributing £550,000 towards the costs of refurbishing and replacing some of the street furniture, signage and litter bins; and £4,500 to help establish more residents’ groups so that more local people can get involved in making decisions about their own areas. As a co-operative council it is important to us that we work together with local people.

“We’re continuing to support our most vulnerable residents and will be spending £40,000 to work with our partners on a programme of financial and debt management to support vulnerable families in their day-to-day lives. This will involve work with the CAB and the Money Advice Unit, and looking at providing baby boxes for those in the most need.

“We’re committing £80,000 towards our NoMore project, allowing us to continue working with partners to help those suffering from drug and alcohol misuse. And we will be giving  £46,491 to extend our landlord support scheme, which identifies available private sector homes, and is part of our work to actively reduce and prevent homelessness.

“This year we’re planning to invest in a popular and exciting leisure project that everyone in Stevenage can enjoy. It’s a celebration of our great sporting heritage and of a unique and important part of our New Town identity: our cycle tracks. I’m proposing to spend £90,000 on a Festival of Cycling for Stevenage: called CycleFest First and Best. This will encompass a range of cycling events from Easter to October that everyone can get involved in. And the highlight will be another Tour series round on Whitsun Bank Holiday Monday.

“These initiatives set our plans for the future but it’s equally important to look to the past, learn lessons and form memories. With this in mind, we are providing £3,000 to enable us to work with the Royal British Legion and other partners on events next year to mark the centenary of the end of World War I. For the individual memories and memorials of Stevenage people, we’re allocating £20,000 to create a site for woodland burials.

“And finally, and most poignantly, we are announcing an investment of £5,000 to create a permanent memorial to honour the memory of our dear friend Sherma Batson.”

Cllr Taylor concluded by saying: “Here at Stevenage Borough Council, we are not afraid of a challenge, and we will continue to work together for the people of our town in the face of daily challenges, hurdles and ever-decreasing funding.”

Notes to editors:
The total Council Tax bill for Stevenage for 2017/2018 will be:
Band A £1,064.23
Band B £1,241.60
Band C £1,418.97
Band D £1,596.35
Band E £1,951.10
Band F £2,305.84
Band G £2,660.58
Band H £3,192.70

For every pound of council tax paid, Hertfordshire County Council gets 74p plus 4p for social care, Hertfordshire Police get 10p and Stevenage Borough Council gets 12p.