- The voting at today’s meeting was 64 votes in favour of the recommendation, 29 votes against, with 2 councillors abstaining.
- The budget and medium term financial plan approved by the Council sets a net budget of £518.780m for 2017/2018. This includes savings of £33m for the next financial year, with total savings of £107m required over the four years – 2016/17 – 2019/20.
- This means a general council tax increase of 1.97%, a weekly increase of 51p a week for a Band D property, and a social care precept levy of 2% (52p a week). This is below the rate for a referendum.
- This makes an overall council tax increase of 3.97% for the Cornwall Council element. This equates to a charge of £1,398.70 for a Band D property for 2017/2018 (an increase of £1.03 a week or £53.41 for the year)
- Having previously limited local authorities to setting a social care levy of 2% a year, earlier this year the Government stated that local authorities could set a social care levy up to 3% a year – up to a maximum of 6% over the next three years. Cornwall Council has chosen to set a levy of 2% each year over the next three years rather than 3% in 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 .
- The Government rules state that all the additional income raised by the introduction of the Social Care Precept must be spent on adult social care services. The 2% social care precept levy set by the Council this year will generate an additional £5.2m for adult social care for Cornwall. This is part of an extra £13m investment (10% increase) into Adult Social Care services this year to make sure vulnerable adults get the support they need.
- The money will be used to address the impact of the National Living Wage for care workers, meet the increasing demands of an ageing population, and support the integration of health and social care services.
Cornwall Council has set a budget which will “protect frontline services from the impact of further cuts in Government funding” , provide an additional £13m for supporting vulnerable adults and invest around £770m in providing hundreds of new affordable homes for local people, improving transport links, and creating jobs by growing the local economy according to Council bosses yesterday.
Introducing the budget and business plan at yesterday’s full council meeting, Council Leader John Pollard said ““This is a positive plan which focuses on opportunity, long term investment and supports our aims of improving outcomes for people, places and prosperity across Cornwall.
“During an unprecedented period of austerity this Council administration has delivered over £166m of savings. We are working with partners to ensure we are protecting and supporting our most vulnerable residents at all stages of their lives, we are developing the places and neighbourhoods that our communities live and work in to ensure that they are safe, active ,clean and sustainable, and that we are creating the conditions for prosperity by maximising the potential for economic growth and development and providing the housing, jobs, transport and infrastructure to enable our people and places to thrive and succeed”.
“The success of our financial planning over the past few years and the opportunities provided by our Devolution Deal to have a greater say in how public sector monies are spent in Cornwall means we are in a much stronger position than many other authorities to deliver a budget which gets the balance right between protecting essential services and increasing council tax levels, and investing in our future. “
“This budget focuses on making sure we are getting the basics right” said Adam Paynter, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Resources. “The results of last year’s Residents’ Survey showed that we need to ensure that the bins are emptied and our streets are clean, we are delivering high quality services to support and care for vulnerable people and that we have enough school places in the areas we need them.
We are already protecting key services by delivering them in different ways. We want to build on this success by working with town and parish councils, local residents and voluntary and community organisations to encourage everyone to play their part in providing the local services that people want.
“Growing Cornwall’s economy has become even more important following the results of the EU Referendum. We want to work with partners to support existing businesses to grow and encourage entrepreneurs to set up new ventures and to help our town centres to thrive by improving public transport and addressing parking issues. We want Cornwall to be a place of high aspirations and will be working with education providers and businesses to support people back into work and ensure that our young people have the best possible start in life, with access to high quality skills and training and apprenticeships
The aim of the budget and business plan is to deliver the priorities identified in the Council’s Strategy to meet the needs of the most vulnerable, protect essential services such as public transport and road maintenance, and invest in new homes and infrastructure, at the same time as delivering the £33m savings forced on the authority as a result of increased demand for services and reductions in funding from the Government.
One of the most significant spending pressures facing the Council this year is in adult social care. The authority currently spends 27% of its total budget on adult social care services. Today’s decision to approve a social care precept levy of 2%* will generate an additional £5.2m for adult social care in 2017/2018. This is part of an extra £13m investment (10% increase) by the Council into Adult Social Care services this year to make sure vulnerable adults in Cornwall get the support they need.
With further increases expected in the social care precept in 2018/2019 and 2019/2020, this means the Council will be spending £146m on adult social care by 2019/2020 – a 16% increase on the current budget.
The budget approved today also reflects the changes arising from the introduction of the rural 100% business rate retention pilot. This will see the Council retaining 100% of local business rates from next year, equivalent to around £79m in 2017/2018.
As a result of this change the Council will no longer receive a number of specific grants from the Government including Revenue Support Grant, Rural Services Delivery Grant or Highways Maintenance capital grants. This means that not only does the Council get to keep all future growth on future business rates, it will have the flexibility to decide how to spend its funding on road maintenance schemes in the future rather than restrained by grants from Central Government.
The budget also includes the decision to freeze car parking fees for the coming twelve months from April. The proposal put forward by the Cabinet earlier this year is designed to enable the new Council to look at the wider issue of car parking revenue.
The budget will also see £770m invested in capital schemes over the next five years, the majority of which will be used to support housing, transport and economic development schemes. This includes £143m for housing, with £49 million being spent by the Council on providing affordable homes for local people; £150m on maintaining Cornwall’s roads and £101m on improving road and rail links and public transport. £27m will also be invested in providing new fire and rescue vehicles and equipment for Cornwall’s Fire and Rescue and Community Safety service.
The overall budget set today also includes the precepts set by Town and Parish Councils in Cornwall. The Town and Parish Council precepts for 2017/2018 total £20.533m with an average Band D property of £110.54; an 8.78% increase on the previous year.
The budget also includes the precept recommended by the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner. The total police precept for Cornwall of £32.745m results in a Band D charge of £176.28; a 1.99% increase which is below the 2% threshold for a referendum set by the Government.
Story by Council Comms