'Best budget in a decade' will see Devon council tax rise by 3.99 per cent
PUBLISHED: 15:43 14 February 2020 | UPDATED: 15:43 14 February 2020
Council tax in Devon is set to rise by 3.99 per cent to help pay for what has been called 'the best budget in a decade'.
Devon County Council's cabinet on Friday morning (February 14) unanimously recommended to next Thursday's full council meeting their budget plans, which will see the council's spending will rise by £43.1 million from £498 million in 2019/20 to just over £541 million.
There will be an extra £23.7 million for adult care and health, £11.5 million more for children's services and £2.7 million for highways including £1 million to help deal with drainage issues on the road network, with an increase of 8.7 per cent on spending year-on-year.
The spending rise will partly be funded by a £1.7million increase in the final Local Government financial settlement for 2020/21, but also by a proposed 3.99 per cent rise in council tax.
The proposed 2020/21 Band D Council Tax figure is £1,439.46, a rise of £55.17 from last year, or £1.06 a week. Of that 3.99 per cent rise, two per cent is ring fenced to help fund adult social care.
Councillor John Hart, leader of the council, said: "This is a good budget for Devon and better than we have had in a few years. There is extra money going in and we will never have enough to meet the rising demand.
"But we have more money going into adult and children's services and some extra money for road drainage because, with climate change, the rain is coming down heavier than ever and we must ensure our roads can cope."
He added: "There is an increase in expenditure, particularly in adult services and children's services, with adult services increasing by 10 per cent and children's by 8.5 per cent. But we are also looking to put extra money into highways as we know we have got a problem with the different type of rain today, with the more monsoon type rain we are getting. We are having a drainage problem and a breaking up of roads problem, so we have put an extra £2m into drainage."
Explaining why council tax needs to rise, Cllr Hart added: "Council tax is going up as we don't get enough from government in grants. Over the years we have lost something close to £300million but we have kept the services going and the show on the road by reorganising the county council.
"We are putting an £43million this year into services. It means the council tax will go up by £55 a year but it means we can maintain and somewhat improve the services we are offering."
Chief Executive Phil Norrey added: "In cash increase terms, this is the best budget we have had for a decade. This is a pretty good budget for us due to prudent stewardship of our finances."
Dr Norrey added that the independent Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy had judged the finances of top tier councils across the country against a number of measures of resilience. Devon's finances had been judged to be good and robust.