Low council tax proposal to support adult social care services (23rd January/5th February)

Published on: Sunday, 19th January 2020

Support for older and vulnerable people is being prioritised as Derbyshire County Council reveals council tax proposals for 2020-21 which could see the setting of the lowest increase for 5 years.

If agreed, a proposed adult social care levy of 2% would see increase among the lowest in the country compared to similar authorities.

Unlike previous years, the authority is proposing no additional rise for other services on top of the 2% levy for adult social care.

The 2% levy is known as the adult social care precept, and as in previous years, authorities with a responsibility for providing adult social care services are advised by the government to charge it alongside any additional council tax increase. To not levy the charge could result in future government funding for adult care being affected.

The 2% precept would bring in £6.7 million and could only be spent on services for older or vulnerable people.

Demand for these services continues to grow as people live longer and have more complex needs which require a greater level of care and support.

There is also additional pressure on the adult care budget to meet the National Living Wage increase to be introduced in April, which will see an extra £12 million funding being required to meet independent residential care staff costs for the coming year.

Leader Councillor Barry Lewis said: “We have been working hard to keep our portion of the council tax as low as we possibly can with the aim to reduce additional pressure on household costs. There will not be any additional rise for general council expenditure, making this one of the lowest council tax rises in the country, but we believe it is the right thing to do to accept the 2% adult social care precept.

“We’d prefer there was no increase at all, but this will help us to fund and protect these essential services, and to not take this levy may disadvantage us when it comes to future Government funding for adult care.  It is well documented that adult social care services are under increasing pressure due to the ageing population, and we also need to meet the forthcoming National Living Wage rise.”

The 2% proposal is much lower than the maximum rise allowed by government which is currently set at 3.99%.

If agreed, the proposed rise would be 1.99% lower than last year and 2.99% lower than the year before.

It would mean an extra 40p per week increase for the average band B household and for a band D household the rise would be 51p per week.

Cabinet will meet on Thursday 23 January to consider the 2% adult social care levy and discuss how it will spend our total proposed £560.2 million budget for 2020-21 across our other services.

Last year, the County Council welcomed a significant funding boost from the government of an extra £21.9 million for social care services for adults and children, an extra £5 million for special educational needs services and a revenue support grant of £13.7 million.

However, to ensure the books continue to balance for the years ahead, a cross-council savings target of £18.9 million has been set for 2020-21 and the savings target over the next 5 years for the council is approximately £65 million.

Councillor Lewis said: "In the past year we have welcomed significant extra funding from the government for social care for adults and children, but the funding we have continues to fall short of what is needed if we want to maintain high quality, vital services in the coming years.

“That’s why we are continuing with our Fair Share campaign and calling on the government to ensure funding is levelled up so places like Derbyshire are not disadvantaged.  We’ll continue to work hard to deliver best value for money to all our residents and continue to review services to ensure we are delivering in the most efficient and effective way possible.

“Our budget for the year ahead stands at £560.2 million and as an enterprising council we can do a lot with that, especially if we work more closely with our colleagues in districts and boroughs and our communities which is our aim.”

The Cabinet report details departmental pressures and bids for extra cash for specific areas, for example £3.6 million to help cope with winter pressures, £4.5 million to meet demands on services from increases in the 65+ population in Derbyshire, £1 million for special educational needs pupil school transport, £200,000 to take forward our work on tackling climate change and £270,000 to start to tackle ash dieback.

There are also bids on the budget for an extra £3 million to help to meet the increasing demand on children’s services including child protection work and placements for children under our care and an extra £1.3 million to fund children’s social workers.

At its meeting Cabinet will make recommendations to Full Council to consider when it meets on Wednesday 5 February.

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