Tax rise of almost five per cent is part of Warwickshire County Council’s budget

Shire Hall, where Warwickshire County Council sits
Shire Hall, where Warwickshire County Council sits

Taxpayers will have to pay almost five per cent more towards public services provided by Warwickshire County Council including recycling and libraries for the next 12 months from April.

In its budget, being set today (Tuesday) the Conservative-led council will raise its requirement for council tax payments by 4.99 per cent.

This will amount to about £5 extra a month or £60 for the year for an average Band D household before proposed increases from Warwickshire Police and Warwick District Council are also applied which could bring this annual additional cost closer to £65.

The county council is still facing large budget cuts and in the next financial year has to find savings of £9 million followed by an expected £16 million between 2019 and 2020.

This is on top of the £100 million it has had to save since 2010.

Despite these cuts, the authority will use some of its £370 million budget to invest £5.7 million into children’s social care services and £1.3 million into adult social care and support - the service which it provides at the greatest cost to itself - an expected £133 million between 2018 and 2019.

The council will spend £2.5 million on a digital transformation programme to make it easier for people to access its online services and help it to become “an enabler for residents to help themselves.

Other investments will include £200,000 into digital fibre optic hubs to enhance communications in communities and £330,000 to convert six school-based children’s centres into specialist provision for pupils with special needs, £100,000 to expand its transport planning team to “maximise the funding received from developers to deliver the infrastructure requirements for associated housing and business growth across the county.

An investment of £108,000 will be made into maintaining the council’s library network including Sunday opening while £150,000 will go towards a a joint project to integrate those for those in need of support due to mental health issues, homelessness and drug abuse.

The council has also said it will invest £1.4 million into home to school transport and invest £500,000 into Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service to reduce the service’s savings target.

Just under half of the council’s spending each year is on staffing and therefore the authority has said it would need to make redundancies in some departments.

Within these proposals, the council will retain 12.3 million to fund the up-front costs of redundancies.

In its budget report the council has said: “The level of savings to be delivered and the choices we have made have not been taken lightly.

“But we will continue to be responsible and commit ourselves to targeting resources that will support our vision to make Warwickshire the best it can be.

“We are all consumers of the services the County Council provides.

“We also represent the tax payers of Warwickshire.

“Unless there is a compelling invest-to-save business case we will only fund additional spending where there is no alternative.

“We will continue to invest in service improvement and redesign for the benefits of citizens.

“To do this, we will work with partners in Health, other local authorities, police and other public agencies to deliver services.

“We will require services to focus on the preventative agenda to manage demand downwards, so we can secure even more value for money.

“This keeps costs down, but we do acknowledge the need for an increase in local tax.

“We will use the opportunity provided by the government to levy a two per cent council tax to provide additional ring-fenced resources to fund adult social care services.

“In addition, we require an increase of 2.99 per cent on the council tax for all other services too.

“In total, this 4.99 per cent council tax increase is equivalent of an increase of £1.25 per week for a Band D dwelling.”