BILLS are set to rise yet again in Warwickshire, after the County Council announced it had ‘no option’ but to increase its share of Council Tax by an average of £82.68 a year for a Band D property while cutting spending by over £16million.
Warwickshire County Council (WCC) has agreed a maximum 4.99 per cent tax rise, including a two per cent increase from the adult social care levy and a 2.99 per cent core council tax increase for all services.
The council will also cut its spending by £16.2million in 2024-25, increasing to £64million by 2029, saying this will be achieved by ‘better procurement, improvements in efficiency, increased income and delivering reductions in demand’.
The council cut spending by £15million in the current financial year – and by £122million over the last 10 years – while taxes have continued to go up.
The council also approved its Medium Term Financial Strategy for 2024-29, which sets out investments into services for the county’s most vulnerable.
They include £28.3million to fund additional demand and manage the cost of placements for elderly citizens and vulnerable adults; £8.3million for children’s social care services; £8.9m for home to school transport; £1.2million for support services for children and families, education and adult social care; and £500,000 to move the county’s network of Community Pantries to a more sustainable long-term delivery model.
The council also announced a priority to bring forward business cases for ‘significant capital investment’ to increase Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) provision in mainstream schools, and further capital investment from WCC funds to provide new school places in the next five years.
WCC Deputy Leader and finance spokesman Coun Peter Butlin said: “In a really difficult environment, where local government faces unprecedented financial pressures, our budget and medium-term financial strategy will ensure the council has the best chance to deliver on our ambitions for the county while building in resilience and flexibility to respond to future challenges.
“This does involve making some savings and difficult choices. But we plan robustly, and this means we are better placed than many councils.
“Our responsible financial management means we can make substantial capital investment such as additional school places to improve the life chances of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.”
“We do not take the Council Tax increase lightly and wish we did not need to take the maximum, but we have no option. Demand and cost pressures in social care, education, and home to school transport far exceed the maximum resources we can generate, and still require significant and very challenging savings to balance the budget.
“We must protect service delivery and look after the vulnerable, taking responsible decisions to keep the council on a sustainable and resilient financial footing.”
Warwickshire Police has already announced a 4.7 per cent increase in the Police Precept of Council Tax – amounting to £13 a year extra for an average Band D household.
Visit http://tinyurl.com/yu94a464 for more information on the WCC budget.