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West Northamptonshire Council sets out budget for 2024/2025

Author: Craig Forsyth Published: 23rd February 2024 14:41

West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) has set a balanced budget for the year ahead, which will protect frontline services and tackle significant financial challenges.

West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) has set a balanced budget for the year ahead, which will protect frontline services and tackle significant financial challenges.

At their Full Council meeting in Northampton’s Guildhall (Thursday, 22 February 2024), members approved the final budget proposals, Housing Revenue Account and setting of the Council Tax for 2024/2025.

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 authority has set a balanced revenue budget for 2024/2025 of £889.5m (£414.5m excluding Dedicated Schools Grant).

The budget includes a Council Tax increase of 4.99%, which is in line with the Government’s threshold, generating extra funding of around £13.1m – with 2% of the increase going towards funding adult social care and representing an average increase on a Band D property of £84.52 a year, the equivalent of £1.63 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 £24.1m of productivity proposals put forward.

The agreed budget also considered people’s feedback in the recent budget public consultation, which attracted over 750 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 2024/2025 budget will see WNC invest over £164m in its capital programme, to improve local infrastructure and assets such as land, buildings and equipment.

The Council is also set to spend an estimated £20m in public health support which is funding from the Government in the year ahead to progress a range of schemes aimed at improving residents’ wellbeing, reducing health inequalities and continuing to support communities.

Within the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) WNC plans to invest £59m of capital funds in social housing during the next financial year. This investment forms part of a total five-year capital programme which amounts to £287m. Also built into the plans is investment in decarbonisation which is estimated to impact on 500 homes.

The capital investment in 2024-2025 includes:

  • £10m on external improvements
  • £11m on internal works improvements
  • £2.3m on disabled adaptations
  • £26m on new build programmes and major projects
  • £10m on buying back social housing and for spot purchases of suitable properties.

In addition to this the Council will spend approximately £65m on managing and maintaining the existing housing stock which is funded primarily by Housing Rents received from current tenants.

Cllr Malcolm Longley, Cabinet Member for Finance at West Northamptonshire Council, said: “Balancing the budget is never an easy task, but it was essential to ensure that the council can continue to provide the services that our communities rely on.

“The Council has concentrated its efforts on finding ways to save more money and generate additional income to address these financial pressures, rising costs, and increasing demand for services that support vulnerable adults and children. Our communities' needs are always at the forefront of everything we do, and we are dedicated to finding ways to ease the burden and ensure that our community thrives.”

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Comments

Ian McCord
At 21:51 on 25th February 2024, Ian McCord commented:
It is a pitty that the amendment that I put forward with the other Independent Councillors was defeated by the Administration.

This sought to keep the funding for roads maintenance at the existing level by taking £2m out of the contingency and adding it to the highway maintenance budget.

Despite announcements that following the cancellation of HS2 money would be redirected to help fix pot holes, the total for the new year starting 1 April is £1.9m lower than at present.

We can only hope that in the Budget the Chancellor will find more money.

WNC has a JCB Pothole machine that is not able to run to its full capacity because of budget restraints. My proposal would have allowed this machine to do more to fix our roads and pavements.

Alas, the ruling majority decided to keep the bank balance higher rather than fixing pot holes and poor pavements. We now know their priorities.

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