New cash injection for Devon’s vital services

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Posted on: 10 January 2020

A new spending boost of more than £11 million is being proposed for vital Devon County Council services.

Inflation-busting increases in spending were agreed by Devon’s ruling Cabinet before Christmas.

But councillors heard then that the General Election had meant a delay in the Government notifying councils of what financial support they would receive in the next financial year.

They agreed a draft budget which included a rise of almost £32 million in spending on children’s services, adult care and roads across the county.

Cabinet member for finance Stuart Barker promised he would boost the budget still further if the Government’s settlement allowed.

Now councillors are being recommended to increase the overall budget by £43.1 million.

In a new report, County Treasurer Mary Davis says: “The December targets were set in the context of great national uncertainty and were therefore cautious. As the provisional settlement is as expected, there is now an opportunity to increase the targets further to support key services.

“These now total just over £541 million which represents an increase of £11.3 million on the December targets and an increase of £43.1 million or 8.7 per cent on 2019/20.”

If councillors approve the new targets, it will mean an extra £23.7 million for adult care and health, £11.5 million more for children’s services and £2.7 million for highways including £1 million to help deal with drainage issues on the road network.

In total the council’s spending will rise by £43.1 million from £498 million in 2019/20 to over £541 million in 2020/21.

In December, the Cabinet heard warnings about the relentless rise in demand for services.

Mr Barker said: “Demand is ever increasing, partly driven by demographic change as people live longer and have greater and more significant needs.”

Mrs Davis: “I am aware my colleagues are coping with a huge increase in demand for their services.”

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