Council reveals revised budget proposals

Cornwall Council’s Cabinet today approved a revised Council Tax level for 2018/19 at 4.99%.

This followed the final settlement received yesterday from central government where additional one-off funding of £2.5m was allocated to Cornwall.

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Cornwall Council’s Leader Adam Paynter said that the additional funding, made up of £1.7m for Adult Social Care and £0.7m for delivering services in a rural area, has enabled the Cabinet to now propose a 2% increase in the Adult Social Care Precept, rather than the 3% rise originally proposed in November, by passporting all the one off funding on to Adult Social Care.

Deputy Leader and cabinet member for resources Julian German outlined the revised four-year Budget proposals to deliver a balanced budget that will see vulnerable adults and children receive more support, significant investment in a capital programme to generate future growth and jobs, building more homes to meet local demand and continued maintenance of roads and public transport services.

The proposed budget will:

  • Protect vulnerable children, adults and families with a 10% increase in funding for Adult Social Services and a 5% increase to children and family services
  • Continue 100% retention of business rates in Cornwall, generating an additional £8m as the number of businesses grow
  • Reduce fuel poverty, helping over 1,100 homes to stay warmer for less
  • Provide extra provision for care leavers who will now receive additional support with their council tax
  • Provide £1.2m to Citizens Advice Cornwall over four years so the service can provide continued support and advice to residents
  • Bring long term empty properties into use by charging a 100% council tax premium from April 2019
  • Invest over £800m through the capital programme in new and improved housing, major highways and transportation links and projects supporting economic growth
  • Provide capital investment to build 1,000 homes, and help grow the economy, jobs and choice for local people
  • Give residents more influence in local decision making by providing more support for localism and community network panels, including an allocation of £1m per year to determine local Highway capital works
  • Provide the Foundation Living Wage for Council staff and all Council contracts which will help support the local economy by boosting local wages
  • Ensure continued support for those in need with paying their Council tax bills.

To deliver a balanced budget, this will mean general council tax will be set at 2.99% for 2018/19 – a rise of 63p per week for a Band B property.

This is in addition to a revised proposal 2% increase on council tax for adult social care, which is line with the Government’s policy of asking local taxpayers to help fund social care demands.

The total increase will be 4.99%. For a Band B property, this means that the Cornwall Council element of council tax per week will rise by £1.04.

The proposals will allow Citizens Advice Cornwall offices and support services for vulnerable residents to be kept open, allow the Council to keep investment in highways at the same level, keep evening weekend bus routes running and continue to subsidise post 16 transport options – all services which residents and members said they did not want to see reduced.

Alongside this, the Council will further streamline operations to make £77m savings over four years, including:

  • Transforming Adult Social Care, saving £34m by making the system more efficient, for example by ensuring that the right care package is identified from the start
  • Saving £16m through better workforce management and a reduction in posts of up to 200
  • Rationalising the Council’s property portfolio to reduce running costs and generate income of approx. £1.2m
  • Maximising investment returns by an additional £1m
  • Investing £18m in digital services so that residents can access Council services more easily online as well as improving IT to reduce overhead costs.

Councillor Paynter said: “Yesterday’s announcement from central Government on additional funding, though welcome, does not go far enough to drive real long term changes and sustainable funding for the benefit of Cornwall.

“Local authorities have been facing years of austerity measures and expectations that Councils can just pick up the bill when there is rising demand for services.  While yesterday’s announcement that there will be an extra £1.7m for Cornwall from central Government for Adult Social Care is welcome, it isn’t enough; the Cabinet are proposing an increase in the budget for Adult Social Care of over £8m in 2018/19 alone.

“Last October the Local Government Association estimated that the gap in funding for local government will be £5.8 billion by 2020 of which £1 billion is attributable to adult social care - the one off £150m nationally really is a drop in the ocean.

“We have an ageing population growing at a rapid pace that will put more and more demand on services. Where’s the money to support these future needs?

“That’s why we are campaigning for a fairer funding deal for Cornwall that is based on need instead of an outdated funding model that doesn’t take in to account need or the added cost of delivering services in rural areas.

“A fairer funding model could deliver an extra £39million for Cornwall every year – that’s an extra £71 for every resident. It would mean rather than having to make decisions to reduce services, we could look at opportunities to boost road maintenance, support for children and families and create more jobs – the things residents tell us are most important to them.

“Politicians of all persuasions should be putting their backing behind this fair funding campaign. What we need is support for sustainable, long-term funding which protects services the people of Cornwall need most.”

Councillor German said: “This budget is tough and challenging, but ultimately it means residents will be able to continue to access and use the services that are most important to them. 

“It reflects what residents told us was important during the budget consultation, and it responds to member concerns that were raised through our scrutiny processes.

“If it is supported, we will be able to deliver what people told us what is most important to them during the budget consultation - services to protect the vulnerable, more homes and jobs growth.”

The revised budget will now be submitted to full Council on 20 February. 

Story posted: 7 February 2018