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North Yorkshire’s savings plan will be decided this week.
North Yorkshire says it is getting ready to make these crucial decisions amid growing calls from councils nationally for the Government to make the sustainability of vital services a top priority in its Spending Review.
The county council will decide on a set of crucial budget recommendations on Wednesday which set out how it can continue to prioritise services which protect effectively the most vulnerable in our communities while also preparing North Yorkshire to face the challenges and unprecedented uncertainty of the years ahead.
By the end of 2018/19 the County Council will have secured over £157m in savings, with a further £40.3m required in the next three years to meet a £197m austerity challenge by 2021-22 – an overall reduction of nearly 40 per cent in its spending power since 2011.
The Council’s Executive has recommended plans to deliver £26m in savings over the next three years with a further £14m still to find. Nevertheless, despite these critical challenges, North Yorkshire continues to put its own resources into supporting priority services which are underfunded by central Government.
For example, while the county council is recommended to accept a £1.5m saving in the high needs budget for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, it is still investing an additional £11.6m of its own money over the next three years into the high needs block as government funding falls short of the level of demand. The council is making this investment to ease the pressure despite growing demand across all its services – adults social care, children’s social care, highways and transportation.
It is also making sure that the money invested continues to create services which are leading-edge and fit for purpose – hence its revision in the savings plan of the pupil referral service and alternative educational provision. This is intended to bring down the rising tide of school exclusions and keep children in mainstream schooling where their life chances are better
North Yorkshire County Council leader Councillor Carl Les said:
North Yorkshire has a reputation nationally for its top quality and innovative services and sound financial management.
Demand for our services continues to increase at a time when there has never been such uncertainty over future funding levels and we are still waiting for the government‘s spending review and the adult social care green paper.
This year’s budget is characterised by over £23m of additional demand-led pressures, particularly in the areas of social care for both children and adults. This is evidence that we continue to prioritise the needs of our most vulnerable members. We will continue to do the best we can for our communities, to deliver good education and social care for young and old, to keep the county on the move and support economic growth.
The budget package includes a recommendation for an increase in general council tax next year of 2.99% along with a 2% social care precept, making a total of 4.99%. This is then followed by an increase in general council tax alone of 1.99% for each year thereafter up to 2021/22 to enable the authority to prioritise frontline services.
The overall 4.99% increase would be equivalent to just over £5 a month for an average household or £1.20p per week.