Liberal Democrat controlled North Norfolk District Council has frozen its element of the Council Tax for the next financial year starting in April, meaning there will be no increase in the charge local residents are asked to pay for District Council services next year.
The proposal not to increase next year’s NNDC Council Tax precept was debated when the 2021-22 budget was discussed at the Full Council meeting on February 24. It's part of a range of measures by the Council to help residents and the local economy to get through the Covid-19 pandemic - and to lead recovery out of it.
The District Council is able to propose the Council Tax freeze due to a surplus now being forecast for next year's budget as a result of central government payments relating to the collection of business rates, which have been significantly affected in the past year due to various Covid-19 grants and relief schemes.
Cllr Eric Seward Deputy Leader of the Council and Financial Cabinet Portfolio Holder said savings from the proposed freeze would help residents and businesses to be further supported by the District Council making no reduction in existing council services - and no increases on most of the Council's other fees and charges. Car park charges will remain the same, helping to encourage visitors back to the District once the area is able to re-open its vital tourist and hospitality economy.
Cllr Seward commented: “I am delighted that in these very challenging times North Norfolk District Council is not proposing to add to the burden of householders by increasing what the District Council raises in Council Tax. At the same time we are maintaining the services provided by the District Council as well as giving additional help to some of our most vulnerable residents. The Council has a sound financial position and this will continue."
Despite proposing not to increase its Council Tax revenues, the surplus on this year's budget will enable NNDC to add £550k into reserves, to better protect the Council’s future financial position and also help deliver some of its priorities for improving services and facilities in the District.
- New leisure centre to open in Sheringham in August and within budget
- Roll-out of a £1.4m programme to support more affordable homes
- Tree planting scheme to plant 110,000 trees in North Norfolk by 2023 under Council’s Green agenda to continue, supported by a £300,000 budget and with two dedicated environment officers appointed
- Seafront chalet refurbishments in Cromer and Sheringham with a budget of £101,000
- Implementation of £3m North Walsham Town Centre Heritage Action Zone regeneration scheme to revitalise and re-energise this important North Norfolk town centre
- More temporary housing accommodation being obtained by the Council for residents in high housing need, with 11 properties bought or being purchased to date. This is projected to save the Council £187,000 in a full year by no longer using more expensive bed and breakfast accommodation and providing a better form of housing for homeless residents
- Information and Advice Budget doubled, with an extra £70,000 to provide support to residents who are vulnerable and/ or in need of advice and support in the current challenging environment.
NNDC has one of the lowest Council Tax precepts for District Councils. Of 188 District Councils in England, over 80 per cent have a higher Council Tax precept than North Norfolk.
It is important to note however that despite the NNDC freeze on its precepts, householders in North Norfolk could still see increases in their overall Council Tax bills, due to possible increases which may be levied by other public bodies i.e. Norfolk County Council (Tory controlled) and the Police Authority.