Council tax hike for Luton people as borough council sets its budget

Typical Luton household set to pay around £70 more council tax in 2024/25
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An extra £7.4m income will be raised from increasing council tax in Luton by just under five per cent for 2024/25, a meeting heard.

A typical household in Luton’s most common B band will see a £67.74 rise in the annual amount due, according to a borough council statement.

For those who pay in ten instalments per year, this will mean a rise of just under £7 a month, said the statement.

Home filing dividers for council tax & household bills. Photo: AdobeStockHome filing dividers for council tax & household bills. Photo: AdobeStock
Home filing dividers for council tax & household bills. Photo: AdobeStock

In areas of increasing financial pressure, the local authority is spending £3m on temporary accommodation, £2m to support special educational needs transport, £2m for adult social care placements and £2m for children placement costs.

LBC will continue to make further improvements to the highways network, with an increase from £5m to £5.5m in 2024/25, added the statement.

“The surface treatment programme will keep roads in good condition for longer, stopping cracks and potholes forming and improving skid resistance.

“To ensure services support the most needy in the town and to provide more than 700 vital services, the council will be required to find £5.3m savings.”

A 2.99 per cent increase and an extra two per cent precept for adult social care means a 4.99 per cent rise for council tax payers. Extra amounts from Bedfordshire’s county fire service and police force are added to bills.

Labour Northwell councillor Rob Roche told a full budget council meeting: “There was an intense period of lobbying before the final settlement was announced and government had to find more money to address some of the challenges faced especially in social care and the housing budget.

“This calls for a wider debate on local government finance arrangements to have a strategic approach and more sustainable funding,” he explained.

“Luton has done reasonably well, having the highest net new job creation in British cities and large towns, with the second highest business start-up rate in the country.

“The general net fund expenditure has increased by about seven per cent or £10.5m. This is the measure of the extent to which unavoidable cost increases exceeds savings.

“This gap necessitates increasing the council tax by the maximum amount allowed of five per cent without a referendum, which will generate an extra £7.4m income.

“The ability to do this combined with prudent financial management has allowed the local authority to set a balanced budget for 2024/25,” added finance portfolio holder councillor Roche.

“This includes a deficit recovery plan of £5.3m to be delivered during the next financial year to address the core budget shortfall.

“That will continue to be a challenge as the cost of living crisis, stabilisation of interest rates and the slowing down of the economy makes it difficult to predict precisely what impact this will have on council finances.

“This council has managed to protect key services and provide extra resources to ensure our staff are fairly remunerated, more for the care sector and in the community neighbourhood and town regeneration budgets.”

Councillors approved a package of recommendations from its executive, including a 2024/25 band D council tax precept of £1,567.91 and social care precept of £264.28.

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