A budget balancing surging demand for services and tough financial challenges has been agreed by Leicestershire County Council.
This afternoon (Wednesday), the authority finalised its four-year plan which will see £94m spent more on services - mainly due to growing demand for social care and special educational needs and disability support - and savings of £75m.
Savings totalling £35m are set out in detail, as well as a plan to reduce special educational needs and disability (SEND) costs by £20m a year, leaving a £20m budget gap.
The council's share of council tax will rise by 3.99 per cent from April. This equates to £1 a week for band D property and generates an extra £12m to invest in supporting vulnerable people. Most of this will be used to support the growth in the number of adult social care service users and children in care.
These are challenging times. Rising demand for services - especially special educational needs and disability support - is ramping up pressure on our budgets. Add uncertainty about local government funding into the picture, and we could see more trouble ahead.Person:Deputy council leader, Byron Rhodes
But, taking tough decisions and saving £200m since 2010 has put us in a strong position, especially compared to other councils. And with savings, our books balance for two years before we see a shortfall.
As the lowest funded county, we're using our finite resources to invest in supporting vulnerable people, set out a significant capital programme without borrowing a penny and have been named the most productive council for the second year.
Securing funding reform remains key. That's why we're continuing to work with Government ministers and do everything we can to bring about a long-term, sustainable, costed funding plan for councils."
Just over 200 residents, businesses and parish councils responded to a consultation which ran from 18 December to 20 January.
The 2019-23 budget plan includes:
• Spending an extra £94m on services – due to growing demand for social care and special educational needs and disability support (SEND) and inflation costs
• £75m savings, including:
o Reducing SEND costs by investing up to £30m to create more school places locally
o Recruiting more in-house foster carers to reduce expensive placements
o Reducing adult social care costs by managing demand and reviewing contracts and personal budget allocations
o Generating more from property investment and commercial activity
o Reducing back office costs by maximising digital technology and simplifying processes
o Implementing initiatives that improve the council’s efficiency and productivity.
• A 3.99 per cent council tax rise – this equates to £1 a week and would generate £12m to invest in supporting vulnerable people
• A capital programme featuring a range of one-off investments such as building a relief road for Melton and other highway schemes, creating new school places, developing supported living for adults with disabilities and rolling out superfast broadband