New Year ushers in first budget for new council

With just three months until the creation of a new council, residents are being asked for their views on the first budget proposals for West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) and help shape the final recommendations for approval next month.

WNC comes into existence on 1 April this year when the eight councils which currently provide public services in Northants are brought together to make two unitary authorities, one serving the west and another serving the north.

This will mean services can work together closely to provide better outcomes for residents and businesses and in a cost-effective manner.

Cllr Rebecca Breese, Shadow Portfolio Holder for finance, human resources and corporate services said: “The consultation stage of the budget setting process is immensely important as it allows people to have their say on the proposals so that they can be further refined before final approval in February.

“I would encourage as many people as possible to take part and help shape services for our new authority which comes into being on April 1st.”

Cllr Ian McCord, Leader of the West Northamptonshire Shadow Authority, said: “With just three months left to go, we will be continuing our focus on this once-in-a-generation opportunity to build public services from the ground up and in a manner that is fit for the 21st century needs of our residents.

“It means our residents will be able to access all their service needs in one place. And with Covid and the wider economic landscape we have our jobs cut out for us.

“Instead of eight elected bodies with the associated costs running the county, we will now be amalgamated into two. 

“Instead of eight Chief Executives and boards of Directors, from 1 April there will be just two.

“And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, this transformation will go well beyond April 2021 and will see every single public service in Northamptonshire rejuvenated.

“This budget sets a solid foundation for those ambitions to be built upon.”

You can take part in the consultation in the following ways:

Budget Consultation Response

West Northamptonshire Shadow Authority

Consultation & Engagement Team

One Angel Square

4 Angel Street

Northampton

NN1 1ED

The deadline for completing this questionnaire is midnight on 2 February 2021.

The proposals that have been put before the Shadow Executive showed no service reductions while taking advantage of the efficiencies of running one authority where previously there had been four councils serving the west.

The report showed the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had in placing higher demands on services while disrupting some planned savings this year.

Proposals also included a proposed Council Tax increase of 4.99%, comprising 1.99% core tax and a 3% adult social care precept.

For WNC this would mean an average Band D level of Council Tax of £1,566.39 from 1 April 2021, or an increase of £74.45 for the year or the equivalent of £1.43 per week.

While the consultation will allow people to give feedback on all of the budget proposals there will be specific questions about the increase in Council Tax as well as Council Tax harmonisation, the process by which the rates of Council Tax are adjusted over a suitable period to arrive at a single consistent rate across the new authority area.

There will also be dedicated questions about the new authority’s 2021/2022 Housing programme. The estimated cost of managing and operating the Council’s Housing Stock is £54.7m which is funded mainly through housing rents.

In line with current national policy the budget includes a proposal, which is subject to this consultation, for rent increases in 2021/22 of 1.5% on average for council house tenants and an increase in general service charges of 0.5%.

The council proposes to deliver up to 200 new homes at a cost of £34.1 m financed from the £59.8 million capital programme.

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