Budget set as average Daventry household will pay an extra £5 in council tax

Daventry District Council has increased its council tax by the maximum of 5
Daventry District Council has increased its council tax by the maximum of 5

The average Daventry household will pay an extra £5 this year in council tax after the budget for 2019/20 was agreed last night.

The £15.43million budget was set by Daventry District Council members, and projects a £642,000 surplus for the financial year.

That number is down from the £2.75million surplus from 2018/19, but comes as government funding to the council shrinks by 6.7 per cent.

Councillor Colin Morgan, portfolio holder for finances at the council, said: “It’s encouraging that we go into the year ahead with a balanced budget, in the face of the continuing pressures locally and nationally and with local government reform on the horizon in Northamptonshire.”

The district council collects council tax on behalf of public authorities across the county, including the parish councils, county council, the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and the fire and rescue authority.

Daventry District Council gets £142.98 a year from an average Band D property, which equates to £2.75 per week. That makes up about 8 per cent of the total council tax bill for a Band D property, which stands at £1,789.20 for the year.

Sixty nine per cent of the bill goes to the county council, 14 per cent to the PCC, six per cent to the parish councils and three per cent to the fire service.

Councillor Morgan added: “This small increase in our part of the council tax will go a long way to helping us maintain services, from bin collections and street cleaning to community events and economic development projects. We believe that £2.75 a week to provide all our services is good value to the local taxpayer.”

This is likely to be the last budget passed by Daventry District Council, with the government expected to confirm the creation of a new West Northamptonshire unitary authority to replace it as well as the county council in 2020.

But figures from the council’s own Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) show that the authority, if it were to continue, would be facing a deficit of £1.57million in the 2020/21 financial year. If given approval, it would be up to the new unitary authority to pick up the tab.

The drastic drop is due to further funding cuts from the Conservative government, but also the potential loss of the business rate retention scheme.

Retained national non-domestic rate income currently stands at £5.18million for 2019/20, but decreases massively to just £838,000 for 2020/21.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Councillor Morgan said: “It’s been very helpful having the funding from that scheme, we have been fortunate in the district to have had that opportunity.

“But we’re projecting that we won’t get it in a couple of years time, but we don’t know what the government intends to do with the pilot areas in the long term.

“We have to work on the basis that we get nothing or that it won’t be replaced, and if it does then it’s an excellent bonus for us. But the numbers are based on the best information that we can find, and are beyond our control.”

The MTFP also forecasts that the deficit would grow to £4.16million in 2023/24 due to the increased cuts.

Councillor Morgan has been a consistent advocate of prudency at meetings throughout the year, cautioning against the council fully financing projects such as the new Reach for Health premises and the town centre cinema project at Mulberry Place, both of which were granted planning approval this week.

He added: “We really have to be careful in that we want to have a good legacy for DDC, but we also have to be very careful not to spend too much money so that future taxpayers across the new unitary authority are not paying for misinformed expenditure.”