Our Executive is recommending a budget for 2021/22 which will meet the growing demand for services to protect the most vulnerable.
In the recent Budget 2021 consultation, residents were asked for feedback on proposals to investment, efficiency proposals and increasing Council Tax.
After carefully considering the feedback from the budget consultation, the Executive agreed to recommend investing £128 million next year on a range of building and infrastructure initiatives such as road maintenance, schools, health and leisure facilities.
Alongside this significant investment, we're continuing to fund everyday services such as recycling and waste collection, public transport, leisure, libraries as well as vital services to protect and support vulnerable children and adults.
In particular, the demand for services to support vulnerable adults and children is growing, placing increasing pressure on our budgets.
To help with this budget challenge, we're continuing our focus on efficiency with proposals for a further £10.7 million of efficiencies next year. This builds on the £163 million we've already saved through efficiency measures since we were created in 2009.
However, the demand for our services is such that our Executive also recommended increasing Council Tax.
The recommended 3% increase in the adult social care precept, charged to residents through their Council Tax, will help to offset this pressure and enable us to continue providing quality care for the elderly and other disabled or vulnerable adults.
The 1.95% increase in Council Tax will enable us to provide more support for vulnerable children. Over £2 million of this additional funding will go towards improving services for children with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) and providing children who cannot stay with their families secure and safe foster homes.
Councillor David Shelvey, our Executive Member for Corporate Resources said:
I fully appreciate that this past year has been particularly hard for some households. It’s never easy making the decision to increase Council Tax, but with increasing demand on our services we need to increase the contribution our residents make to ensure some of our most critical services can continue.
The extra Council Tax and adult social care precept help us to provide vital care and support to the most vulnerable in our communities.
Having heard from residents in the consultation about the impact of the pandemic, it is clear there's also a need for us to focus on economic recovery to support job creation. This will help our communities to recover from the financial effects of the pandemic.
We are also increasing the funding for our Council Tax Support Scheme; this is a comprehensive scheme where residents who may struggle to pay their Council Tax can apply for a reduction.
The budget also recognises the vital contribution that the voluntary sector has played in supporting communities through the pandemic and includes £70,000 of extra funding each year for these organisations.
The final budget will be considered at the Council meeting on 25 February 2021.