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Cornwall's council tax WILL rise by almost 5%

Cornwall's council tax WILL rise by almost 5%

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 6:04am 20th February 2018. (Updated at 4:27pm 20th February 2018)

Cornwall's council tax is going up by almost five percent.

Officials have voted in favour at their big budget meeting.

It works out to just over £1 per week extra for the average Band B home.

But the total jump is less than first planned, after a £2.5 million cash injection from the government.

Pirate FM asked the man in charge of resources at County Hall, exactly where the money will go.

Julian German said: "We've put money to Citizens Advice Cornwall, into protecting weekend and evening bus services, into adult social care and into children's services to make sure that our most vulnerable are protected".

However, he warns that overall, the Duchy is facing big funding cuts: "Difficult times - the reduction in central government grant from £404 million to £58 million is a significant reduction in resource.

"That's also why we're asking residents to support our fairer funding campaign - #StandUpForCornwall".

Earlier this month, Cornwall Council’s cabinet 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.

The additional funding is made up of £1.7m for adult social care and £0.7m for delivering services in a rural area.

That means that the Cabinet is now proposing a 2% increase in the adult social care precept, rather than the 3% rise originally proposed in November, by passporting all the extra funding onto adult social care.

What will the budget plan include?

  • 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.

Council Leader Adam Paynter said: “The 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 £39 million 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".

You can read more about the fairer funding campaign for Cornwall here.

Councillor German added: “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 be submitted to full council for a final decision on the 20th February.

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