A meeting of all Herefordshire’s county councillors this Friday morning (February 10) is one of the most important in the council’s calendar, with some big policy decisions to approve.

Budget setting

Like many local authorities, Herefordshire Council is under considerable financial pressure. In order to balance its books for the financial year ahead, as well as cutting back on spending on services it plans to increase the council tax it levies on the county’s households.

This it is proposing to do by the maximum amount now permitted by the Government, of 4.99 per cent, which will raise the amount paid by a typical band D property in the county from £1,702 to £1,787 – plus “precepts” for police, fire and parish services, which have yet to be determined.


Conservative group leader Coun Jonathan Lester has said he and colleagues will “struggle to support” the increase. But cabinet member for finance Coun Liz Harvey has pointed out that opposition parties on the council have not prepared alternative budget for the year ahead.

Council Tax reduction

Alongside the proposed council tax rise, a policy to exempt struggling households from having to pay the tax at all will have to be approved by councillors before it can continue for another year – though this is unlikely to be as controversial.

The scheme affects just over 6,500 working-age and nearly 5,000 retired households, and amounts to nearly £14 million of forgone income to the county.

Capital investment & strategy

Councillors will be asked to approve a capital (that is, investment in equipment and facilities) budget which includes just under £40 million worth of additional items, nearly half accounted for by a new electric bin lorry fleet and infrastructure for them.

Second Homes

A plan to double council tax on second homes in Herefordshire will also be confirmed if passed by councillors on Friday. The premium, due to be implemented from April next year, would also apply to properties that have been empty and for between one and two years.

There are around 6,900 registered second homes within the county, or around 8 per cent of tLive articlehe total. The plan could generate over £12 million extra council tax revenue.

Pay policy

Councillors will also be asked to approve a pay settlement for council staff, ranging from a 1.5 per cent raise for chief executive Paul Walker to £157,348 a year, down to the “real living wage” of £10.90 an hour for the lowest salary grades.

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The meeting can be seen in person at the council’s Plough Lane, Hereford headquarters, or watched live or via playback on the council’s YouTube page.