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Cornwall's council tax could go up by 3.99%

Cornwall's council tax could go up by 3.99%

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 5:04pm 3rd December 2019. (Updated at 9:31am 5th December 2019)

Written by Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter

Cornwall Council is inviting residents to comment on its budget plans which include raising council tax bills by 3.99%.

The authority is starting to prepare its budget for 2020/21 and is aiming to have a general increase of 1.99% along with a 2% increase for adult social care.

The council’s medium-term financial plan (MTFP) – which covers four years – had last year allowed for an increase of 2.99% in the main council tax rate.

But the draft budget proposals are based around the revised 1.99% along with the extra charge to provide additional funding for adult social care.

Details of the budget were revealed in a presentation to councillors this morning in an all-member briefing led by deputy leader Adam Paynter.

Cllr Paynter explained that the council has achieved savings of £380 million in the past 10 years and will have to make a further £59m savings in the next four years.

The Liberal Democrat councillor explained that the council’s budget proposals would result in a balanced budget for 2020/21 but that there was a budget gap forecast for the next three years.

In 2021/22 the budget gap is expected to be £12m, in 2022/23 predicted to be £10.5m and in 23/24 would be £15.2m.

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Cllr Paynter said that council tax bills in Cornwall were among the lowest in the South West and this was something the council wanted to continue.

Turning to individual departments he explained that adult social care, which accounts for the largest share of expenditure by the council, helps around 3,020 people in Cornwall.

The council is proposing to invest £20m in adult social care in 2020/21 but the department will also have to make £3.5m of savings. Over the period of the MTFP adult social care will have to make £13.85m of savings.

Together for Families – which covers children’s and family services – is set to get investment of £5.6m in 2020/21 and a total of £15m over the MTFP.

However the department will also have to make savings of £5.1m over the same period, including £1.348m in 2020/21.

The council’s wellbeing and public health department is expected to get a grant from Public Health England of £700,000.

And the neighbourhoods department is set for an extra £17m of funding in 2020/21 which includes an extra £500,000 for the fire and rescue service and £2m for climate change. The department does have to make savings of £1.5m.

Customer and support services is set to get £2.3m of investment in 2020/21 – which includes funding for additional call centre staff as proposed by an overview and scrutiny committee.

And the department is set for a “major transformation programme” which will save £3.624m over the MTFP.

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Lastly the council’s economic growth and development department is proposed to get an extra £5.9m which includes £1.235m which is for bus services and school transport.

The department will have to make savings of £8.275m over the next four years.

All departments will be taking action on climate change in line with the council’s climate change action plan with £16m set to be spent on measures which will include the launch of the Forest for Cornwall, retrofitting energy inefficient homes, changes to planning policy and improvements to footpaths and cycleways.

Cornwall Council is inviting people to comment on the budget plans and also make suggestions for how they think the council should spend taxpayers’ money.

An online survey has been launched at www.cornwall.gov.uk/budget2019 where people can get involved.

The council will also hold consultation events in January and all budget proposals will go to the council’s overview and scrutiny committees.

A final decision on the budget will be made by the Cabinet which will recommend it to full council for approval in February.

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