Devon’s budget set to be in the black

Posted on: 8 March 2017

Devon County Council is set to record a balanced budget for the 26th year in succession.

County Treasurer Mary Davis said the budget was projected to be in surplus when the financial year ended in four weeks time.

But she warned:

“Caution should be taken when looking at this position as there is still time for storm events and winter emergencies to occur.”

Mrs Davis told the Cabinet today that there was likely to be an overspend in adult social care as a result of increased costs in residential and nursing homes and a rise in demand.

The number of packages of care which had been provided for older people and those with physical and learning disabilities was 451 over what had been predicted at 10,289.

School transport costs were also up across the board, she said, both for school buses and personalised transport for those with special educational needs.

But the increased costs were partly balanced out by underspending in waste services, planning and transport  and highways, as the result of a relatively benign winter.

Devon’s deputy leader and Cabinet member for finance, John Clatworthy, said he had predicted that the budget would be in surplus earlier in the year when there had been warnings about overspending.

Cllr John Clatworthy

“I said then that I would be very disappointed if there was not a significant reduction,” he said.

“The former Devon Labour leader, Saxon Spence, always used to say that things came together at the business end of the year and I have every expectation that when the outturn is announced in June it will be positive.”

4 comments on “Devon’s budget set to be in the black

  1. Otter Rotters says:

    Your answer is not a comprehensive explanation of the full cut to the Recycling Credits (RCs) paid to Community Composters whilst leaving other sector’s RCs unchanged despite both sectors each showing a saving to DCC of £118/tonne. Nor do you mention the levels of green waste being put in dustbins which are costing the taxpayer in hidden costs.

    The cut is 50% phased in over 3 years and 50% is in no way marginal. The costs of providing a kerbside collection are high and DCC’s Impact and Environmental Assessments were wholly inadequate which is not what the public expects to see when getting involved in a consultation.

    The commercial contractor gets paid £25 per tonne for skips at HWRCs under a 7 year contract and this is not comparative to a community run kerbside collection that enables those people without cars or those with any barrier to accessing a HWRC – (often many miles away from residents’ homes) to responsibly dispose of their garden waste. These collections are relied on by thousands of often older people and, due to the increasing need, OR offers Assisted collections to enable people to carry on looking after and enjoying their gardens with the recognised benefits that this brings.

    The comments above reflect frustration to the reference to underspending in waste and this is understandable when many of the residents now affected didn’t even know that there was a consultation to cut RCs. The decision to cut was taken despite councillors raising serious concerns: item 8

    The residents’ frustrations as expressed to Otter Rotters reflect the lack of community involvement and transparency behind this cut. Regular kerbside collections reduced the amount of garden waste going into bins and removing them will inevitably lead to more gw going into bins – DCC’s cut that was reported as possibly saving £30k for the whole of Devon risks costing East Devon tax payers £40k pa if every tonne OR handles ends up in bins (even without year on year growth) . The introduction of 3 weekly collections in East Devon already has residents worried about bin capacity.

    Disappointingly you also fail to acknowledge K Konopka’s other concerns including “not for profit venture which provided employment for the disabled and which was a boon to hundreds of households”. Your #WeAreDevon seems a little hollow in the light of how many households in East Devon are feeling as a result of this misguided cut.

    • Thanks for your comments. This is an important issue, and it’s one that we are taking very seriously. You will be aware that we’re working with community composting groups including yourselves in order to help them become more sustainable and to take advantage of other potential funding sources available to them, and we’re pleased to continue having these conversations with you.

  2. Baron Keith G Z Konopka says:

    Well, bully for you.

    You managed this remarkable result while still paying Otter Rotters the subsidy on which they relied to keep their services going. Now you have offered them virtually nothing and your miserly action has forced them to throw in the towel on a not for profit venture which provided employment for the disabled and which was a boon to hundreds of households in East Devon, particularly the elderly whose gardens are just about the only pleasure they have in life but, because of their age and often their age related disabilities, are not able to pop their garden waste into the boot of their car – if they have one – and toddle off to a recycle centre.

    You must be feeling extremely proud of yourselves.

    • Dear sir

      Thank you for your comments.

      To say that we have offered Community Composting Groups, including Otter Rotters, ‘virtually nothing’ is not correct.

      We are reducing the discretionary recycling credit rate we pay them from April, but the reduction will be marginal.

      This new £50 a tonne rate, which will be in effect for a year, will still be double the rate we will pay our commercial contractors under the new contract from next month for processing the same waste.

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