Cabinet backs new Devon County Council budget

Posted on: 12 February 2016

Devon County Council’s Cabinet today backed a new budget which calls for more spending on care services and extra cash to beef up the authority’s ability to cope with continuing storms.

Devon is now set to spend over £443 million on services in the next financial year.

The budget includes a £16.1 million boost for under pressure care services.

The People budget will rise to £316.1 million – up 5.4 per cent on the current year.

But there will be a reduction of £3.4 million in Place services which cover highways, libraries and the economy – down from £97.3 million to £93.9 million.

The budget for the Corporate Services department, which provides backroom support, will fall by 8.8 per cent from £36.7 million to £33.4 million.

The full council will debate the budget next Thursday.

The budget is based on a council tax rise of 3.99 per cent. That is just over £46 a year extra for the average Band D council taxpayer taking their bill for county council services to £1,207.62.

This does not include council tax bills for police, fire, district and parish councils.

Deputy council leader and Cabinet member for finance, John Clatworthy, said the increase was 90p a week for the average council taxpayer.

The overall increase comprises a 1.99 per cent rise in the general council tax with 2 per cent extra to help pay specifically for adult social care.

Councillors decided last month to accept the Government’s offer to increase council tax by two per cent to help pay for adult social care.

This will raise just under £6.5 million which will help fund the Government’s increase in the minimum wage. That will cost the county council over £7 million more in care costs in 2016/17.

The majority of this cost relates to those who care for vulnerable adults.

The Cabinet also agreed that the £8.4 million extra granted by the Government this week would go into strengthening resilience in social care for elderly and vulnerable people, boosting the county’s response to severe storms, highways drainage, safety defects and hedging.

In addition £40,000 extra will go to support the Citizens’ Advice Bureau.
Cllr John Hart
Devon County Council leader, John Hart, said:

“We still face a very tough budget settlement with some very difficult decisions.

“There is no let-up on the squeeze which this council faces.”

County Treasurer Mary Davis said between 2011/12 and 2015/16, Devon’s spending has reduced by £174 million as a result of national austerity measures.

Mr Hart added: “We are well aware that many people in Devon are living on fixed incomes or low wages and any increase in their living costs is unwelcome.

“But without this council tax increase we would have to make even more severe cuts than we are considering in the budget.”

A 1 per cent increase in Devon’s council tax will cost the average Band D householder an extra £11.61 a year.

The Budget meeting is at 2.15pm on Thursday, February 18.

Posted in: Politics