Households in North Hertfordshire face higher council tax bills after North Herts Council agreed to increase their portion of council tax by the maximum of 2.99 per cent.

The council's Labour-Lib Dem coalition agreed a balanced budget at a full council meeting yesterday (Thursday, February 29).

But Cllr Elizabeth Dennis, leader of the council, warned that there are "difficult times ahead" for North Herts Council and authorities across the country.

Around three quarters of UK councils are increasing their council tax bills by the maximum amount this year.

Among them are Hertfordshire County Council, which opted earlier this month to increase its portion of council tax by 4.99 per cent - the highest allowed for an authority with social care duties.

In North Herts, around 77 per cent of your council tax payments go to Hertfordshire County Council, 12 per cent to North Herts Council and 11 per cent to the Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner. A small amount is also allocated to parish and town councils.

For a typical band D property, the North Herts element of the council tax bill will now rise by £7.55 for the year from April, from £252.46 to £260.01.

Some low income households are exempt from paying council tax under the reduction scheme, or can receive a discount.

Council tax revenues are used by North Herts Council to fund, for example, bin collections, street cleaning, maintaining parks and recreational facilities, and providing homelessness support.

Other projects that the council has agreed to fund include £10k for additional bee corridors, £1m for a gym extension in Royston, £350k to renovate skateparks in Hitchin and Royston, £400k for work on Oughtonhead Weir in Hitchin, and £100k in community investment grants to local organisations.

However, a spokesperson for the council warned that "significant savings will need to be made" in the 2025/26 budget.

Cllr Dennis said: "The government has cut funding to our district by almost £6million in real terms since 2010.


"If the government doesn’t address the growing financial crisis facing councils soon it will leave us having to make extremely difficult decisions this time next year.

"We’re determined to do as much as we can to keep delivering our services to our residents and minimise the impact that these growing pressures from central government could have on the hard-working people of North Herts in the future.”

Cllr Ian Albert, executive member for finance at North Herts Council, added: “We’re using around £1.7million of reserves to achieve a balanced budget in 2024/25, which is coming from previous business rate gains.

"We take a prudent approach where we don’t budget for in-year business rate gains, but release them, as they are needed, after they have been achieved.

"While we are pleased to be in the position where we can continue to deliver key services and invest in our district, these reserves are not endless, and the government urgently needs to address the growing financial crisis facing councils and come up with a long-term plan to sufficiently fund local services through multi-year settlements.”

But Conservative Cllr Ralph Muncer accused the Labour-Lib Dem coalition of seeking "to shy away from taking the tough and decisive decisions which are needed in order to put this council's finances on a firm footing for the future".

Referring to planned cuts to bin collections, Cllr Muncer said that residents are "paying more" and "getting less" for their money, and accused the coalition of putting politics "above the people" by "deferring and delaying" decisions until after the local elections have been held in May this year.