Council plans a further £34m of cuts and a council tax increase

Plans to achieve a balanced budget for the year ahead are due to be considered by Derbyshire County Council at a meeting next week.

Cuts to the council’s budget are set to continue due to reductions in grants from Central Government and other pressures including inflation, meeting the costs associated with implementing the Living Wage and greater demands on social care and services for vulnerable children.

By 2021/22 up to £80m must be cut from the council’s overall budget, by which time it will be spending a third less on providing services than it was before Government austerity cuts to local council funding began in 2010.

A total of more than £200m of cuts has already been made.

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The council has said it is confident it can balance the books for 2017/18 but to achieve this it must make a further £34m cuts to its budget and look to raise council tax.

The council’s Cabinet will meet on Tuesday, January 24, to consider the proposals which include: Setting the authority’s annual budget for 2017/18 at £486m and raising council tax by 3.99per cent to generate an additional £11m to help deal with the shortfall.

This proposal includes a 2per cent increase to help to meet the rising costs of adult social care and would mean an increase of £36.16 a year – or 70p a week – for a Band B property and £46.49 a year – or 89p a week – for a Band D property.

Derbyshire County Council Leader Councillor Anne Western said: “We’re doing everything we can to maintain our services, especially where they are protecting and supporting older and vulnerable people and children who need our care.

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“We are also doing a lot of positive work to help strengthen communities and grow the local economy.

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“We’re always exploring new ways of generating income and saving money, scrutinising every penny that is spent. We have already set up a council-owned development company to build much needed homes on surplus council land which will also create jobs and support the local economy.

“Cutting services is the last thing anyone at this council wants to do. However, we are going into our eighth year of Government austerity and we have a legal duty to balance the books.

“By 2021/22 we will be spending a third less on providing services than before Government austerity cuts began and we just cannot provide the same level of services while losing this amount of money.”

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Last year, councils with responsibility for providing adult care services were for the first time given permission by the Government to raise council tax by up to 2per cent in addition to the maximum 2per cent ordinarily permitted.

The Government has announced it is continuing to allow local councils to do this, with authorities being able to increase their adult social care precept by 3per cent in each of the next two years, or a 2per cent increase in each of the next three years.

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A 2per cent adult social care precept increase on the council tax in Derbyshire would raise an additional £5.6m for 2017/18 and the council will consider this at its meeting next week.

This would only partially protect adult care services which are facing a £12.2m cut this year.

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Councillor Western said: “We don’t want to raise council tax and we know that this places an additional burden on households.

“Last year the Government gave clear guidance to all local authorities providing adult social care that it expected them to raise council tax to cover the rising cost.

“We have to consider this step again so that the council can protect some services for elderly, vulnerable and disabled people. It’s not enough and will not stop service cuts, but we feel there is little alternative at the moment.”

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In December, last year, the county council asked residents to take part in a consultation about the council’s budget looking at the figures and indicating where they felt the money should be spent.

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Responses to the consultation have been used in the drafting of the report which is due to be considered.

Cabinet will be asked to consider the report and the cuts proposed by services, and make recommendations to Full Council to consider on Wednesday, February 8.