Leicestershire County Council agrees council tax increase of almost five per cent as part of 'complex balancing act'
By Ashby Nub News Reporter
22nd Feb 2023 | Local News
A council tax rise of nearly five per cent has been included in Leicestershire County Council's budget - after its financial plan was agreed on Wednesday.
The council says it is a budget that delivers major investment in support for vulnerable people - and includes an extra £57million for vital help, such as home and residential care
The authority agreed its budget at a full county council meeting.
Adding it is designed to protect public services as much as possible during tough economic times, the plan will see major capital investment of £509m, service cuts totalling £3m, £59m of efficiency savings and a 4.99 per cent Council Tax increase from April to ensure the books will balance next year.
An extra £1m has also been earmarked to offset the impact of service cuts and boost road maintenance, following better than expected Government funding earlier this year – this includes £100,000 to continue rolling out community speed cameras.
Ashby-based council leader, Nick Rushton, said: "Protecting the vulnerable and hefty investment in support people depend on – that's what our budget delivers.
"Unforeseen global issues such as war in Ukraine and rising energy costs make balancing our books challenging.
"We've spent a lot of time on it and asking people to pay more has been a tough decision.
"Not doing so would drastically reduce the money we can spend on social care, fixing roads and other frontline services."
Although councils fared better than expected in the Government's Autumn Statement, the financial outlook remains extremely tough with the authority's budget gap set to rise to nearly £90m by 2026.
Growing service demand is set to increase costs by £70m, with rising inflation forecast to add another £91m by 2026/27. On top of this, the National Living Wage increase drives up social care costs significantly and adds another £18m.
The council says a 4.99 per cent Council Tax increase from April equates to £1.39 a week for a Band D home and generates £17.7m for front line services.
Councillor Lee Breckon, cabinet member for resources, added: "Local government is facing an ever increasing funding squeeze making balancing our £512m yearly budget a complex balancing act.
"But even with the financial pressuring growing, we pride ourselves on doing the best we can with the money we have. And that's why it was right to freeze our own member allowances this year.
"Being the lowest funded county compounds the issue and I'm looking forward to discussing this with the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, next month.
The budget includes:
• £57m more to support vulnerable people - to pay for more home and residential care, and support people with physical disabilities, learning disabilities and mental health needs. The number of home care users has increased by 600 since January 2020.
• £59m of efficiency savings – reducing back office costs by maximising digital technology, simplifying processes and providing the right level of support to residents
• Service cuts totalling £3m - including reviewing waste sites, streetlighting, Green Plaques and Shire Grants
• A £509m four-year capital pot - for the cost of building roads, schools and other one-off projects
• A 4.99 per cent Council Tax rise for 2023/24 – this equates to £1.39 a week for a band D home and generates £17.7m for front line services
• An extra £1m to reduce the impact of service cuts and boost road maintenance – including £100,000 to continue rolling out community speed cameras. This follows the budget consultation and better than expected funding from Government earlier this year. Proposals will be drawn up over the next 12 months on options for this money, following detailed consultations on specific planned savings.