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North Yorkshire has today set a budget amid a plea to Government by the county council leader for a long-term solution to unrelenting pressures on spending from adult and children’s services.
Cllr Carl Les, North Yorkshire County Council’s Leader, said:
We urgently need some long-term funding solutions, particularly for adult social care as the burden cannot continue to fall on the council tax payer. We need a cross-party national solution to this issue.
We welcome the new Government honouring the pledge to provide the additional social care funding and to repeat the one-off grants for a further year which helps us to continue to deliver high-quality services. We are also grateful to the county’s MPs for their advocacy in helping us to ensure that North Yorkshire has a voice at national level.
However, we urgently need an end to temporary funding and a more permanent solution via a full spending review that covers three to four years so we can plan properly given the escalating demand for services.
The budget package agreed at North Yorkshire County Council’s quarterly meeting means that that council tax will rise by 3.99 per cent – including a 2 per cent social care precept – the equivalent of £4.36 per month or £1 per week for an average household.
England’s largest county heard that North Yorkshire desperately needs clarity around long-term funding solutions, particularly for adult social care and special educational needs, in the face of what’s described as “unrelenting demand”.
The council report outlines how North Yorkshire’s financial planning is dependent on nearly £62 million of temporary funding meaning, like many councils, it continues to operate amid great uncertainty. The temporary funding comes after the Council has lost around £136 million in direct grants from government since 2011 when austerity began.
Together with the overall savings North Yorkshire has had to deliver and the rise in demand the council’s spending power has been reduced by 40 per cent.
County Councillor Gareth Dadd, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Finance, said:
The reality is that two of our biggest areas of spend are now significantly underfunded. Adults who need social care and children with special educational needs are some for the most vulnerable people we look after and the services we offer can be life-saving and life-changing. We want the best for our residents.
Alongside those challenges we have to identify a further £40 million in savings over the next four years. The Budget report sets out plans for £21 million of that but we still have £19 million to find. We need financial clarity so we are not planning in the dark.