Introduction

Dear Business Ratepayers,

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council invite you to comment on their budget proposals and priorities for the financial year commencing 1 April 2020. This provides an important opportunity for you to comment on the Councils investment plans and the services provided to businesses.

It should be noted that since the start of the Government’s austerity programme in 2010, the Council has delivered efficiency savings in the region of £15m. These are sizeable sums for a district council and sets out the Council’s ambition to deliver better value for money services while continuing to keep council tax as low as possible. The Council plans to increase Council Tax by 1.49%, lower than both inflation and the referendum limits set by Central Government.

The Council’s finances will continue to come under severe constraints and funding from Government is expected to continue to decline. The Government has approved that some Councils in Hertfordshire have been selected as a pooling area. This pool includes Welwyn Hatfield, and therefore a higher proportion of business rates growth will be retained locally.

We are committed to ensuring the continued prosperity and vitality of our businesses and communities. We have continued to invest to improve our town centre areas with significant investment into Hatfield and other areas, and further improvements are underway.

Our aims remain to deliver orderly, safe and well managed streets and an attractive environment as well as a greater opportunities for residents.

We believe that Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council delivers excellent value for money, and we want to do even more this year to improve the services that impact on your daily life. We will also continue to strive for efficiency savings, while delivering services faster and of the highest quality.

Commitment To Businesses

The Council is committed to delivering value for money and quality services to its customers, and recognises the important contribution the Council has to make to vitalise and support the local economy. “Our Economy” is one of the Council’s five priorities identified in the Business Plan for 2018 – 2021. A one page summary of the Councils priorities can be viewed using the following link: https://www.welhat.gov.uk/media/13629/Plan-on-a-page/pdf/Plan_on_a_Page_-_Final.pdf?m=636783294128670000

The Council will:

  • Promote the borough as an attractive place in which to invest.
  • Work with Hertfordshire’s Local Enterprise Partnership to access grants and external funding to support investment in our local economy.
  • Continue to attract businesses to the area by influencing the development of a high quality infrastructure.
  • Provide appropriate support and signpost training to local businesses enabling them to grow and strengthen their market position.
  • Continue with a programme of regeneration works in Hatfield town centre while working closely with others to plan for the longer term future of the town.
  • Strengthen local business participation in the Hatfield Town Team and Welwyn Garden City Town Centre Partnership.
  • Work with others to increase footfall to our town centres and other shopping areas.
  • Deliver and support community activities and events such as continental markets and festivals in our town centres.
  • Encourage all businesses to take up any rates relief they may be entitled to.
  • Maintain our good record in making prompt payments for suppliers of goods and services. In particular, over 97% of our invoices from businesses are paid within 30 days and more importantly, we pay over half of our invoices from businesses within 10 days.
  • Continue to encourage local small businesses to bid for work from the Council by pushing opportunities online.

Proposed Budget 2020/21

The Councils proposed budget is published on the Councils website, as part of its Cabinet Meeting held on 6 January 2020. This can be viewed using the following link: https://democracy.welhat.gov.uk/mgAi.aspx?ID=10869#mgDocuments

The budget proposals and associated policies are set out within the report. Particular areas that may be of interest are:

  • Efficiencies and Savings summary – Appendix C
  • Growth Summary – Appendix D
  • Fees and Charges – Appendix E
  • The Council Capital Investment Programme – Appendix I

We would welcome any comments and views on the Councils proposed budget. Please send any comments to Ka Ng (Corporate Director – Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) and Richard Baker (Head of Resources) by email using k.ng@welhat.gov.uk and r.baker@welhat.gov.uk by Thursday 23 January 2020.

Please note that any comments you do make may be reported to the Council Meeting on Monday 3 February 2020 when the budget decisions will be made.