Devon County Council budget to invest in skills, care and roads

budget approval

Posted on: 20 February 2012

Devon County Council has approved a budget that will provide a multi-million pound extra investment in skills, care for the vulnerable and vital road maintenance but will still freeze council tax.

The council’s annual budget meeting added an extra £10.3 million spending to the target budget published in December.

It means £5 million more for highway maintenance on C class and other minor roads and nearly £4 million on housing initiatives for the vulnerable.

In addition there will be £610,000 extra for improved highway drainage, gulley maintenance and highway lengthsmen.

Youth services will benefit from an additional £500,000 investment after Devon became one of four areas nationally to host a Youth Innovation Zone.

This will consider options for re-modelling services for young people. It will look at training needs, work with partner organisations, celebrating achievement and raising the profile of services for young people.

There will be £150,000 for the Rural Growth Network, aimed at boosting employment opportunities, and £150,000 for animal welfare testing.

But council tax for Devon county taxpayers will be frozen for the second year running.

The money for the extra spending is coming from an £8.2 million grant from the Government to fund the council tax freeze and a higher than expected rate of council tax collection by Devon’s district councils.

In December, Devon’s Cabinet approved a target budget  of £507.5 million for 2012/13 which meant cuts of £20.6 million in spending across the authority.

But that still allowed for over £4.5 million more to be spent on services for children, the elderly and vulnerable even before the new additions.

Mr Hart said today: “This is a budget for investment in the future of Devon – despite the continuing difficult economic climate.

“We are able to do more for our vulnerable elderly residents, whose number is growing.

“We can do more for our young people who are being particularly affected by the rise in unemployment.

“And we can ensure that we keep people moving – wherever they live in Devon – by boosting the vital road maintenance that is so important for communities and for our economy.

“We always said we would do our utmost to keep the cuts to a minimum. This budget does just that while recognising we all have our part to play in getting the economy back on an even keel.

“We had to consider very carefully the Government’s offer to compensate us for freezing council tax this year as it is a one-off payment that may not be repeated next year.

“However, by spending the money wisely and efficiently, we have been able to invest in our county but still freeze charges for our residents whose household incomes are under serious pressure.

”And, by using the money how we have, it will not be necessary to make cuts in the 2013/14 budget if the Government does not repeat its offer.”

Deputy leader John Clatworthy said the council tax freeze grant would be spent on non-recurring expenditure that would not be a call on the budget for 2013/14.

“You can tell we have been listening to what the scrutiny committees have been telling us,” he said.

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