Big boost for social care spending

Posted on: 7 December 2016

A big boost on spending for adult social care and health is being planned by Devon County Council despite continuing Government cuts.

Next year’s target budget calls for an extra £18.8 million to be spent on adult care and health in 2017/18. That’s a rise of almost 10 per cent and would take the total budget to £216.5 million.

The budget targets will be considered by Devon’s Cabinet next Wednesday but they come with a tough health warning from County Treasurer Mary Davis.

In a report to councillors, she says the Government still hasn’t confirmed what level of grant the authority will receive next year.

She says Devon had agreed an efficiency statement with the Government which offered a degree of certainty for funding for the next four years.

But she adds:

“What isn’t known is whether the settlement figures provided by the Government are the actual sums we will receive or have been amended due to the financial impact of recent events such as Brexit.”

Mrs Davis says there was little for local government in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement last month and no mention of the expected extra funding for adult social care or what level councils might be able to set additional council tax increases to help pay for it.

The target budget also calls for increases in spending for children’s services of two per cent or £2.3 million and 5.7 per cent or £2 million for communities, public health, environment and prosperity.

The revenue budget for highways, infrastructure and waste would reduce by 3.5 per cent but the council is planning to move a number of areas of road repairs to its capital budget which will be considered in February. This will allow for longer-term planning of vital issues such as road resurfacing work.

In all, the target revenue budget for 2017/18 would be £459.5 million.

Council leader John Hart said:

“There is still considerable uncertainty about what support we shall receive from the Government and particularly whether they will provide extra funding for vital health and social care which is under immense pressure both in Devon and nationally.

“But we must step up to the plate. Devon has one of the highest proportions of people over 65 and people over 85 and they need and deserve our help and support.

“So despite the continuing austerity agenda from the Government, we have found extra money for these vital services.

“We have always said our priority is to protect the most vulnerable in our society and I believe this target budget will help to do that.

“That’s why we are also increasing the budget for children’s services again following on from big increases there previously.”

Devon County Council’s Cabinet meets next Wednesday, December 14 at 10.30am. The county council budget meeting is in February.  You can watch the meetings live online here.

Posted in: Health and Wellbeing | Politics