Derbyshire council tax to rise by 2.5 per cent to help maintain services

Derbyshire County Council has set its budget for the year ahead and agreed a council tax increase of 2.5 per cent which is just half that permitted by central government.

Monday, 8th February 2021, 10:04 am

At its meeting of full council on February 3, the authority set its net budget for 2021-22 at £572.4 million, revealing it is 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 more than £100 million since the beginning of the pandemic, the council 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 five per cent, made up of an adult social care precept of three per cent (which must be spent solely on adult social care) and two per cent for general council expenditure.

Coun Barry Lewis said the council was in a much better financial position than anticipated at the start of the pandemic

At its meeting, the council agreed to the 2.5 per cent increase, made up of one per cent for adult social care (which will raise just over £3.4 million) and 1.5 per cent for general council expenditure, which will help to support other council areas under pressure, mainly children’s services.

The council has the option of levying the remaining two per cent on 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.

Coun Barry Lewis, council leader, 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.

“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.

“In an ideal world we’d like no council tax increase at all, but the pressure on all our services 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 £572 million 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.”

The council also set a cross-council savings target of £13.3 million for 2021-22 and a target of £72.8 million over the next five years to continue to balance the books.