At a meeting of Full Council on Wednesday 3 February 2021 we set our net budget for 2021-22 at £572.4m, revealing we are in a robust financial position due to careful budgeting and sufficient extra funding from government to support extra spending due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Although more government funding is expected to the end of the financial year and further into 2021, likely to total over £100m since the beginning of the pandemic, we stated that significant pressures would continue in some areas, particular adults and children’s social care.
This year the Government has allowed local authorities with responsibility for adult social care, like Derbyshire, to raise council tax by a maximum of 5%, made up of an adult social care precept of 3% (which must be spent solely on adult social care) and 2% for general council expenditure.
At the meeting on Wednesday we agreed to the 2.5% increase, made up of 1% for adult social care (which will raise just over £3.4m) and 1.5% for general council expenditure, which will help to support other council areas under pressure, mainly children’s services.
We have the option of levying the remaining 2% adult social care precept in the next financial year if required.
The council tax increase will mean an extra 50p per week for an average band B household and for a band D household it will mean a rise of 65p per week.
Derbyshire County Council Leader Councillor Barry Lewis said:
“Every year we have to make what we have go just that little bit further, and we’re constantly looking at enterprising ways to get the most out of every penny.
“Coronavirus has put extra pressure on all our services and we welcome the extra support from central government which has put us in a much better financial position that we initially anticipated at the beginning of the pandemic, and we are told there will be further support into the next financial year.
“There still remains significant pressure in some areas, namely adult social care and children’s services, and although we have been able to put more money into these areas, demand continues to rise and the challenges will not go away.
“As important as ensuring these vital services continue to protect our most vulnerable residents, old and young, is the need to keep council tax as low as possible for residents and not put additional pressure on already overstretched household budgets.
“That’s why when the government gave us permission to raise extra money to pay for adult social care by 3% this year, we decided to keep this to a 1% increase. And we’re also keeping the general increase to 1.5%, rather than the permitted 2%.
“In an ideal world we’d like no council tax increase at all, but the pressure on all our services, especially for adults and children, means that’s just not feasible and could lead to greater challenges in the future.
“Our net budget for the year ahead is just over £572m and our stable financial position means we can continue with our ambitious plans for the county
“These include spending more on adults and children’s care services, continuing with our £40 million programme of repairing roads and pavements, investing in schools and care homes and continuing with our important climate change programme.”
At the meeting we set a cross-council savings target of £13.3m for 2021-22 and a target of £72.8m over the next 5 years to continue to balance the books.