Fees and charges focus for budget proposals
Proposals by West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) to increase fees and charges for important, non-essential services will help to address an unprecedented rise in running costs and service demand for the year ahead.
The Council, which was facing the risk of a significant budget shortfall for 2023/24, plans to protect critical services for vulnerable residents by increasing discretionary fees and charges in areas where people can choose if they wish to use the service.
The budget proposals include increasing fees where possible to cover the rising costs associated with running services. Current national averages charged for some services have also been considered and in a number of cases raising charges for services where they had not been reviewed for several years, to ensure they fairly reflect today's costs.
Cabinet members continue to consider the final package of parking fees and charges for next year and will consider comments received through the budget consultation exercise and following several meetings with business leaders and other interested parties. Their final car parking proposals will be announced at the Cabinet meeting on 13 February.
The Council is continuing to explore a range of options around flexible pricing structures at the car parks to help address concerns from local businesses around the proposals.
Other plans being considered for the year ahead include setting the annual garden waste service charge at £55, in line with typical green waste schemes operated by councils across the country.
Councillor Jonathan Nunn, Leader of West Northamptonshire Council, said: "Inflationary pressures have already had a huge impact on this year's budget and are anticipated to lead to £18m in added costs to our services next year, an impact we urgently need to address.
"Many of our fees and charges were not annually reviewed by the predecessor councils, and in some cases had fallen well behind annual inflation rises.
"We have focused so hard on fees around discretionary services, where residents at least have some choices on whether they wish to use them.
"We fully appreciate that the plans to increase some discretionary fees, such as parking charges, have raised concerns. We have listened carefully to this feedback and are actively looking at options to try to address these concerns, given the really tough financial constraints that we have.
"Our focus has also included benchmarking fees and charges nationally against other local authorities to ensure we are providing services at fair cost. Our proposal to set the garden waste charge at £55 for example brings it in line with many other local authorities but it is still by no means among the highest."
WNC's Cabinet will consider the 2023/24 budget proposals at their meeting on Monday, 13 February. View the agenda and reports on the Council's website
Posted: Mon, 06 Feb 2023 11:43 by Tracy Sampson