West Northamptonshire Council sets out budget for 2023/24
West Northamptonshire Council this week set a balanced budget for the year ahead that will protect essential frontline services whilst addressing significant financial challenges.
At their Full Council meeting in Northampton’s Guildhall (Wednesday, 22 February), members approved the final budget proposals, Housing Revenue Account and setting of the Council Tax for 2023/24.
In common with local authorities across the country, the Council is facing severe financial pressures due to factors including the current economic climate, high inflation rates driving up running costs and an increase in demand for services, particularly around supporting children in care and vulnerable adults.
Despite these pressures, the Council has worked hard to balance the books and has set a balanced revenue budget for 2023/24 of £383.5m (excluding grant funded schools spending of £443.7m).
The budget includes a Council Tax increase of 4.99%, well below current inflation rates and in line with the Government’s allowance, crucially generating extra funding of around £12m – with 2% of the increase going towards funding adult social care. This represents an average increase on a Band D property of £80.50 a year, the equivalent of £1.55 a week.
The approved budget follows a strong commitment to making services as efficient as possible and reviewing income streams in order to maintain and protect services, with £32.0m of savings proposals put forward.
It also incorporates a range of additional measures to address people’s feedback in the recent budget public consultation, which attracted over 3,000 comments from residents, businesses, partners and other stakeholders. It has also been subject to continuous review and scrutiny, including consideration by the cross party group of members of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
The additional plans include investing an extra £1m in the year ahead towards repairing local roads and changes to car parking proposals include putting in place two hours’ free parking on Saturdays and Sundays in Northampton’s town centre off street car parks and a set weekend all-day charge of £2.20 for off street car parks, introducing free parking up to 10.30am on Saturdays at Daventry and Brixworth country parks and reducing the proposed maximum daily charge at the two sites by a third to £8.
In addition to this, the Council will be investing up to £215,000 in the year ahead towards bus services. This continues the funding allocated for the current year, while the Council shapes a new bus strategy and considers the most viable options for supporting and delivering the services in the future.
Next year’s budget will see our Council invest an additional £30m in capital funding – money earmarked to improve local infrastructure and assets such as land, buildings, and equipment – on a range of projects, some of which will help reduce costs and generate income to support services in future years. Schemes set to move forward in the year ahead will help tackle speeding in rural areas, create new cycleways and footpaths for healthier travel, and improve local roads.
Councillor Malcolm Longley, Cabinet Member for Finance at West Northamptonshire Council, said: “Over the last 12 months since we set our budget for this last year, we have worked hard to address the unprecedented challenges we’ve faced. We could not have predicted the national picture we’re facing with demand on services and rising costs; however, we have acted on this quickly and put robust processes in place to manage this year’s budget.
“To ensure the future sustainable delivery of services, we must do what we can to ensure we continue this work to manage our budget going forward.”