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Harlow Council finances remain in a strong position after surplus reported

09 Jul Harlow Council finances remain in a strong position after surplus reported

Harlow Council’s finances remain in a strong position according to the latest budget reports.

Regular updates on the current financial position are discussed at every Cabinet meeting with a report on the council’s final financial performance for 2023 to 2024 going to Cabinet this Thursday (11 July 2024). These updates are part of the council’s mission to deliver high-performing services and to be more open and transparent.

It is being reported to Cabinet that for its main service budget (the General Fund) totalling £13.5m the council has spent £244,000 less than it expected to in the last financial year – 2023 to 2024. The council is also reporting a much lower than forecast deficit in the council housing budget for the same year. The council’s level of reserves is also healthy and above the minimum level.

All of this was achieved whilst investing tens of millions of pounds into fixing council housing, restoring pride in Harlow, rebuilding our town, securing investment into Harlow and improving council services. The council’s budget was also achieved alongside another freeze in the Harlow share of the Council Tax bill.
The council’s budget for 2024 to 2025 (the current financial year) includes a further council tax freeze, over £120 million to transform council housing and improve and deliver housing services. There’s over £37 million to build new council homes for Harlow families and over £32 million to carry out upgrades to the Playhouse, Pets’ Corner, Paddling Pools and splash parks, Harlow Museum, and the Latton Bush Centre, and much more besides.
All together this puts the council in a strong position to deal with any financial challenges it might face.

The council has already started preparing for next year’s budget (2025 to 2026). Later this year the council will be consulting with residents and businesses to understand their funding priorities.

Councillor Michael Hardware, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Finance, said:

“Our financial performance in the last financial year is due to careful spending across the council and solid investments like buying the Harvey Shopping Centre. Not only did we spend less than expected, but we did it with a Council Tax freeze, with no cuts to any service and with record investments in our services. But most importantly we also delivered on every single one of the priorities we set out to residents.

“We know that every council continues to face significant financial pressures. We are not immune from these pressures, but we continue to ensure that we are on top of the issues and are prepared for any future challenges. There are few councils at this time who can say that their finances are in a healthy position.

“Our finances remain very strong, and we have a track record of protecting services and ensuring that our residents get value for money from their Council Tax and rent. These are the things that we will continue to work hard to do while ensuring that we listen to the views of residents and businesses before we set future budgets.”