UDC approves below-inflation council tax rise and protects services for 2022/23

Uttlesford District Council has agreed its budget for the next financial year.

The 2022/23 budget, which was approved by councillors at a meeting on 22 February, includes a below-level inflation increase of 3.09% for the district council portion of the council tax bill. This means a Band D property will be charged £166.61 for services provided by Uttlesford - a modest increase of £5 per year.

At the same time, Uttlesford is maintaining its council tax relief scheme for residents on low incomes as the most generous of any Essex authority. This will mean that those who are fully eligible for this support will only pay £1 out of every £8 of the bill for their household. In addition, councillors approved an amendment to next year's budget that will see almost 1,000 working age people, who were in receipt of Local Council Tax Support on 31 January, receive a further £100 rebate on their council tax bill. The rebate will be applied automatically for those who are eligible for it. Low-income pensioners and vulnerable people are already protected through the scheme and currently receive entitlement to 100% council tax discount.

Band A to D properties will also receive the £150 payment recently announced by the government. The council will be writing to eligible people to get their bank account details, if it does not already hold these, so that it can process the payment as quickly as possible.

Next year's budget contains no cuts to the services that are provided by the district council. Despite challenges ahead, the council has maintained investments in key areas for 2022/23, including the continuing spend of the £1 million commitment to tackle the climate crisis; £1m to support economic and high street recovery programmes; £450,000 for sporting facilities across the district; £200,000 to enable additional minor highways improvement schemes; investment in day centres; and maintaining full funding for the Local Plan.

Recent rule changes on all local authorities imposed by the government do however mean that the authority will need to reduce its net spending over the rest of the coming five years.

Cllr Neil Hargreaves, Portfolio Holder for Finance and Budget, said: "With spiralling energy bills and inflation, we understand and appreciate that money is tight for residents. The modest district council increase in council tax is below the rate of inflation and less than10p per week.

"Like all councils, Uttlesford is facing some significant financial challenges, but I am pleased that we have produced a balanced budget for next year. We have a strong financial strategy in place, have diversified our income streams and we continue to provide high quality services without the majority of the burden falling on the local council taxpayer."

The budget report and papers, including the Council Tax Resolution, Commercial Strategy (which sets out how the council's commercial investments are managed) and Medium Term Financial Strategy are available to view at: www.uttlesford.gov.uk/budget.

Although Uttlesford District Council sends out Council Tax bills, it does not keep all the money - it only keeps about 9p in every £1 collected. The rest is split between Essex County Council (about 71p in every £1 collected), Essex Police (about 11p), the Fire Service (about 4p) and the town and parish councils (on average about 5p).

Overall, residents in Uttlesford will face an average increase of 4.29% in their total Council Tax for the 2022/2023 financial year, amounting to a total bill of £1,965.60 for the average band D property - an increase of £80.88 on the previous year. The total will vary across the district due to the different precepts taken by town and parish councils.

The breakdown of annual Council Tax for a Band D property in 2022/23 is:

Essex County Council - £1,401.12

Essex County Fire and Rescue - £75.33

Essex Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner - £218.52

Average town/parish councils - £104.02

Uttlesford District Council - £166.61

28 February 2022