2.99% council tax rise put forward in Luton Council's draft budget

'The budget assumes that no further Covid-19 support would be provided by central government'

Monday, 10th January 2022, 1:56 pm
Updated Monday, 10th January 2022, 1:58 pm

An increase of almost three per cent in the local authority's council tax share for 2022/23 has been outlined by Luton Borough Council ahead of a meeting tonight (Mon Jan 10).

The proposed 2.99 per cent rise in the council tax precept consists of 1.99 per cent and a ring-fenced social care precept of one per cent.

It follows an 3.99 per cent increase 12 months ago, when the adult social care precept was two per cent of that rise.

Luton Town Hall

The draft council budget and capital programme for 2022/23 will be put out to consultation and comment initially, according to the council.

Further consideration will be given at a specific budget executive meeting on February 9 before the financial package is recommended to a full council meeting 12 days later.

The executive would be asked to approve a band D council tax precept of £1,466.03 and social care precept of £196.14 for submission to the budget council, explained a report to an executive meeting this evening (Mon, Jan 10).

The report states: "The financial implications of the Covid-19 epidemic have had a huge impact on local government finance in general, and the financial position of Luton Borough Council in particular.

"This will continue to be the case in 2022/23 and in the medium-term because of the importance of the former London Luton Airport Limited (now Luton Rising) to the council’s finances and the pandemic's impact on the aviation industry globally.

"The response and approach of the council and Luton Rising to this challenge has been subject to external review by The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) on behalf of the government."

The budget assumes that no further Covid-19 support would be provided by central government.

"This is causing extra budget pressures as its impact on both costs and income is still being felt, and the council has to find innovative ways and prioritise to keep within budget and maintain the service delivery," it said.

"The budget is based on the council receiving no dividend from Luton Rising in 2022/23, as was the 2021/22 budget.

"The impact of Covid-19 and its aftermath on Luton Rising, and consequent reduction in revenue from the airport company remains one of the major budget risks facing the council."

In a statement, the local authority said today: "Despite the difficulties, we are determined to provide the best possible value for money to residents as we deliver on our Luton 2040 vision of ensuring our town is a place where everyone can thrive and nobody has to live in poverty.

"We provide more than 700 important services on your behalf. These range from road maintenance, register office services and licence authorisation to organising bus passes, providing business advice and adult learning courses.

"In 2022/23, we anticipate spending £596m on these services and on longer-term plans for the benefit of the town.

"Of this, by far the largest proportion will be spent on caring for the vulnerable, families, children and adults in need.

"Along with money for educating our children, we expect this to account for nearly 60 per cent of all expenditure.

"The council tax you pay, which accounts for 15 per cent of our spending, is vital. For a council band B property, this rise will mean a 72p increase per week."

Portfolio holder for finance and Labour High Town councillor Andy Malcolm said: “In line with our vision, this budget sees the beginnings of investment in our town centre and increased resourcing for street cleansing.

“With inflation rising, the weekly shop and energy bills increasing too, we're all having to tighten our belts. The council is no exception."