Guide to the council budget
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused exceptional hardship for individuals, families and businesses across the county and the UK. The restrictions needed to limit the spread of the virus meant people could not live their lives as normal and many businesses saw significant falls in turnover or were forced to close temporarily.
Prior to the pandemic the council was recognised as being in a relatively secure financial position over the medium term. It had increased its revenue reserves in recognition of the challenges yet to come, however the Covid-19 challenge exceeded all expectations. We continue to have growing demographic pressures, particularly relating to adult social care and children with disabilities. There are also higher costs associated with the county's rurality.
Herefordshire Council Tax rose by 4.99 percent in 2021/22, this included a 3 percent precept to fund growing adult social care needs. Herefordshire has added pressure in this area, with a higher than average proportion of people in the county over the age of retirement. The increase in Council Tax will allow for the expansion of the tax base, an increase in support for people unable to pay Council Tax and allow the council to take advantage of government grants.
Continued reduced funding
Funding from central government continued to reduce in 2021/22 (a loss of over £5 million from the council's budget), however, we continue to rise to the austerity challenge by targeting significant savings of £98 million between 2010 and 2022 while delivering successful projects to boost the local economy including major public realm improvements to Hereford centre, continuing the roll out of faster broadband and the growing number of businesses operating from the Hereford Enterprise Zone.
Adult care precept
The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government continued with its offer to councils with adult social care responsibilities, of the option to charge a 'precept' on Council Tax without holding a referendum, to help meet rising expenditure on adult social care.
The council budget ensures that corporate and service plans are developed in the context of available resources and that those resources are allocated in line with corporate priorities set out in the County Plan. Herefordshire's key priority areas are:
- Connectivity - Connecting people digitally and physically across communities, in local neighbourhoods and to the wider world
- Wellbeing - Helping people feel safe, supported and valuing Herefordshire and their community
- Sustainability - Pride in Hereford's unique and beautiful environment and rural heritage and tackling the climate challenge through new approaches to sustainability