Have your say
You can comment on the proposals until 19 January
Pressure is building as demand for support and infrastructure soars, new budget proposals show.
A 20 per cent surge in demand for children’s social care and special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), combined with inflation, is driving up Leicestershire County Council’s costs by £117m.
The latest four-year plan sets out the need for £80m of savings, but also £16m of investment in tackling climate change, an extra £34m to support vulnerable people and £7m next year to top up road maintenance budgets.
The £80m breaks down as £24m of detailed savings and a plan to reduce SEND costs by £17m, leaving a £39m gap.
A 3.99 per cent Council Tax increase equates to just over £1 a week and would reduce the impact on services by generating £12m next year to support vulnerable people.
Our budget foundations remain strong. Driving down costs and delivering good services is generating bang for our buck, underlined by being rated the most productive council in the country for three years running.Person:Byron Rhodes, Deputy Council Leader
Our financial position doesn’t make it easy but we remain focused on delivering the services our residents need. Over the summer, we asked for people’s views on our priorities. We’ve listened and plan to plough millions of pounds into children’s and adults’ services, boosting roads by fixing pot holes, improving drains and tidying verges and combating climate change. We’re a green council and that’s why we are installing electric charging points, developing carbon-neutral buildings and planning a trailblazing, green housing development and an income-generating solar farm.
A range of one-off investments to support infrastructure for new homes features in the £600m capital programme. This includes building the Melton Mowbray relief road, creating 6,400 more school places - 5,900 mainstream and 500 SEND - expanding adult social care accommodation and rolling out high-speed broadband.
Rapidly spiralling demand is ramping up pressure on both our service and capital budgets. We can balance the books for now but despite saving £210m since 2010, a significant gap is looming. Leicestershire is growing, requiring the biggest investment in the county’s infrastructure for a generation. That’s why prioritising resources and improving how we work remain essential.Person:Councillor Rhodes
A one-off cash injection of Government funding in the autumn was welcome but we mustn’t lose sight of the bigger picture. And future certainty, a cast iron commitment to fair funding and a longer-term solution for local government finance, for social care in particular, are essential.
- Demand for SEND support is forecast to rise by 20 per cent over the next four years – a one-off investment of £30m is creating almost 700 extra places and aims to bring down cost
- Investment in adult social care accommodation would allow 60 people a year to move into housing that helps them to live more independently
- The combination of people living longer, households becoming smaller and a rising birth rate mean that Leicestershire’s population is growing – and set to rise by 107,000 between 2016 and 2041
The council’s cabinet will discuss the report on Tuesday, 17 December – watch the meeting online.
Have your sayYou can comment on the proposals until 19 January
Find out more
The £117m rising costs are made up of £59m of service pressure and £58m inflation costs such as increases in supplier charges and the National Living Wage.
The £24m detailed savings include:
- Recruiting more in-house foster carers to reduce expensive placements
- Reducing adult social care costs by simplifying processes and speeding up support
- Bringing together early help and prevention services - and delivering some in-house
- Reduce disposal costs by recycling and re-using more waste
- Generating more income from property investment
The 3.99 per cent rise includes a two per cent national levy to be invested in adult social care – councils have had the option to include up to eight per cent over four years.
The capital budget is made up of one-off spend to buy or build things and invest in infrastructure.
It’s estimated the savings would lead to a reduction of around 150 full-time equivalent posts over four years although it’s expected the number of compulsory redundancies will be lower, given the scope to manage the position through staff turnover and vacancy control.
The final budget proposals will be agreed by the county council at its meeting on 19 February.