Guide to the council budget
The Covid-19 pandemic caused extraordinary financial costs to Herefordshire including lost local tax income. Central government has supported councils financially, however, the effects of Covid-19 continue to be felt with costs and loss of income likely to continue. It is difficult to predict the uncertain nature of how the pandemic, and its legacy, will impact Herefordshire. If the coronavirus mutates again, it will be extremely important for us to respond and step in as we have already done to protect our vulnerable communities, contain the virus, and keep our local economies going.
There are pressures in homecare due to staff shortages in the provider market. This reflects the national picture. There is a local and national backlog, waiting lists, and delayed discharges from care homes and hospitals leading to ongoing financial implications.
Inflation pressures are expected, however, these are expected to be temporary. If high inflation persists then considerable expenditure pressures could be seen especially in the council's capital investment budget.
Herefordshire Council Tax rose by 2.99 percent in 2022/23. This included a 1 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
Austerity has seen the council have to make significant savings to deliver a balanced budget, £106m to date. We have achieved this by being more efficient, streamlining services and finding new and innovative ways of operating, while still delivering the vital services residents rely on and value. We have and continue to expand the services of our subsidiary, Hoople Ltd, to maximise our efficiencies.
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. This is to help meet rising expenditure on adult social care - for 2022/23 Herefordshire have charged 1%.
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 of which value for money is central to its delivery.
"Respecting our past, shaping our future - we will improve the sustainability, connectivity and wellbeing of our county by strengthening our communities, creating a thriving local economy and protecting and enhancing our environment."