Council passes budget to address the Cost of Living crisis
Stevenage Borough Council’s budget for 2023/24 set out how it can continue to run the majority of its services by taking a number of key decisions. The council has balanced its finances to deliver essential services to residents, and continues with its regeneration ambitions, housing priorities and safer co-operative neighbourhoods.
Cllr Richard Henry, Leader of Stevenage Borough Council said: “This is the toughest budget this council has faced in years. The Cost of Living crisis has also affected us as a council with rising inflationary costs including fuel and energy, through to increased material and other expenditure, all this of course, on the back of the cost of COVID and significant reductions in government funding since 2010/11.
“Local government has stepped up magnificently when faced with these current challenges. Despite huge cuts and increasing inflationary pressures on our finances we continue to deliver vital front-line services, supporting our most vulnerable residents, housing the homeless, delivering help and emergency funding to businesses and keeping our public spaces safe. I would like to express a huge thank you to all council staff who carried out this fantastic work.
“Almost every council is facing the need to plug a funding black hole. However, our members and officers have worked hard together to strive to ensure that we continue to have sufficient money to run our services whilst at the same time responding to our residents’ top priorities such as regenerating our town, building more social and affordable homes, and reducing crime.
“It is with great regret the council has had to recommend the closure of its free play scheme offer. The total service £601thousand which equates to £566 per child registered with the service. Unfortunately, the service has not been as well used since the pandemic and it is our one of biggest areas of discretionary spend. There are further smaller service cuts to our Health and Wellbeing and Sports Development services, due to inflationary pressures we cannot fund through fees and council tax increases. However, we have just heard our Wellbeing and Sports Development service has been awarded external funding for next year so we are able to continue this for another year”.
The £37.5million the council and the Stevenage Development Board secured from the Town’s Fund will result in exciting schemes being delivered to the value of £140million and we have secured the £14million from the Local Enterprise Partnership. This funding has been used to:
- improve the town’s public realm,
- build a new bus interchange,
- develop Co-Space in the town centre which is now 100% occupied by local businesses and entrepreneurs,
- construct the new railway multi storey car park,
- create Event Island - space for events and performances
- and most importantly, bring new businesses into the town to provide jobs and development opportunities for local people.
The council’s own revenue funding may be under financial pressure, but it will continue to utilise external funding for the benefit of those who live and work in the town.
Council Tax paid to Stevenage Borough Council for a Band C property will go up by £5.99 (2.99%) per year. Each C household will pay Stevenage Borough Council £206.50 for 2023/24. This is the equivalent of just £3.97 per week or 57 pence per day to fund services from Stevenage Borough Council.
Hertfordshire County Council will see an increase of 4.99%, and 6.73% for the Police and Crime Commissioner for their share of the council tax. This means a Band C Council Tax in Stevenage for 2023/24 will be £1,845.28 or £153.77per month which represents an overall increase of 4.96%. Although we collect Council Tax from our residents we only keep just over 11% of that total sum. The Police and Crime Commissioner and Herts County Council receiving £211.56 and £1,427.22 respectively.