Herefordshire Council have proposed a 4.99 per cent tax increase in the draft revenue budget for 2024/25.

This increase is set to address the predicted £28.8 million financial gap.

The draft budget will be considered by Herefordshire Council's cabinet at its meeting on Thursday, December 14.

Like many other councils across the county, Herefordshire Council is facing significant financial challenges. This is mainly because of rising costs due to inflation and the increased demand for both adult and children’s social care services. 

The combined pressures facing the council had led to a predicted financial gap of £28.8 million between forecast revenue and expected costs in 2024/25. 

Following an extensive review of council expenditure and significant work to identify savings by council officers and cabinet members, the council is now in a position to publish a draft revenue budget for 2024/25 which balances.

The total budget for 2024/25 will b £205.2 million and as part of the efforts to balance the budget, it assumes a total council tax increase of 4.99 per cent (2.99 per cent increase in core council tax and a two per cent adult social care precept), along with £19.5 million savings and efficiencies across council services. 

Subject to approval by cabinet, the draft budget will then be considered by member of the council, the council’s scrutiny committees, businesses and members of the public. 

Any changes to the proposals, along with the outcome of the public consultation, will be included in the report to cabinet on January 24, 2024 before the final budget is submitted to council for approval at its meeting on February 9, 2024.

Leader of Herefordshire Council, Councillor Jonathan Lester, said: “We’ve had to take some tough decisions to get to a balanced draft budget.

“We are confident we can deliver this budget without recourse to reserves which due to overspends in previous financial years have diminished.

“The council is still facing significant inflationary pressures and if council tax rises by 4.99 per cent, this is still well below the rate of inflation we are seeing across the councils contracts and so only goes some way towards balancing the budget.

“Over the last few months we have put in pace strict financial controls to regulate spending and ensure best value for money and we will continue to enforce therein the financial year ahead. These measures alone will not be enough to make the savings needed and we will need to transform how services are delivered and review the organisation’s size and structure to reduce cost, along with looking at opportunities to maximise income. 

This is at a time when resources are already stretched, so that we can secure the delivery of key services for the long term. “

A budget consultation is currently underway which is inviting people to give their views on where council spending should be prioritised and to give feedback on areas of additional income which could contribute towards balancing the budget. It also outlines a number of proposed increases in council tax alongside ho much additional money each would raise.

Cllr Lester added: “Setting out our draft budget at this early stage means that people can see our proposals and provide feedback on them in an informed way. I’d encourage everyone to contribute.”

To give your views online go to until Sunday, December 31 or attend one of the in person sessions which have been arranged across the county.

You can find the draft budget report on the council website.