Warwickshire County Council has confirmed investment into services for the County’s most vulnerable, as it agreed its financial approach to support the delivery of the Council’s priorities.
At the meeting of County Council yesterday (7 February) Councillors agreed the Council’s 23/24 budget together with its 2023 – 28 Medium-Term Financial Strategy (MTFS). The MTFS will ensure the County Council’s finances remain robust and sustainable, whilst being ambitious in its plans to make Warwickshire the best it can be, sustainable now and for future generations.
Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Finance and Property, Councillor Peter Butlin said:
“We know that it has been a particularly challenging year for our residents with rising energy costs and household bills. This is why it’s essential to demonstrate that we have a clear financial strategy that underpins the delivery of the outcomes we set out in our Council Plan.”
“From an economic perspective, the approved budget will ensure that Warwickshire remains a County with a thriving economy and places with the right jobs, skills, and infrastructure.
“In relation to our communities, it will continue to be a place where people can live well; where communities and individuals are supported to live safely, healthily, happily, and independently. On climate change we will continue to strive to be a County with a sustainable future which means adapting to and mitigating climate change and meeting net zero commitments.”
Areas for investment
The Council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy sets out several areas for investment, including investment of:
£5.4 million in our children’s social care services, including investment of £3.3 million for additional staffing to improve outcomes for young people;
£24.8 million to protect our elderly citizens and vulnerable adults to fund additional demand and manage the cost of placements, whilst continuing to make progress on our vision of greater integration between health and social care and the adult social care reform agenda;
£1.8 million to continue to support children and young people with disabilities placements and to ensure they can access appropriate support within their communities;
£1.5 million to increase capacity in the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) assessment and review service, and the admissions and attendance services;
£8.2 million in home to school transport to ensure we continue to provide services in line with our policy whilst being able to respond to the increasing demand and cost of the service, which has been particularly impacted by inflation;
£0.3 million in support for apprenticeships and reskilling across the county, with an emphasis on reskilling for the changing economy
£0.8 million in the Fire and Rescue Service to review current strategies and processes for prevention activity and identification of high-risk premises; £1.2 million to meet the current levels of business and customer support needed in response to the demand pressures in children and families, education, and adult social care; and
£1.2 million in the Waste Management service to meet the increased demand and cost as a result of housing growth and the increased domestic waste generated due to more people working from home.
A 3.94% Council Tax increase was agreed. This increase, which is substantially below inflation, includes a 1% increase from the adult social care levy and a 2.94% core council tax increase for all services. This is equivalent to an increase of £1.20p per week for a Band D dwelling.
Cllr Butlin continues:
“Planned and prudent financial management has ensured that we have been able to meet increasing demand for support for the most vulnerable whilst at the same time investing in our services and infrastructure over the last few years, and the increase in council tax, along with proposed budget reductions, will enable us to continue to achieve this.
“The increase we have made is 1.05% below the maximum 4.99% increase we could make (2.99% core council tax plus up to 2% adult social care levy) and will be used to meet the rising demand for and costs of adult social care.”
In order to deliver value for money for the taxpayers of Warwickshire and meet the changing needs of its communities, the Council will additionally deliver £15 million of budget reductions in 2023/24, increasing to £68 million by 2028, through better procurement, improvements in efficiency, increased income and delivering reductions in demand. This builds on the £9 million savings that the council will deliver in 2022/23 and £114 million over the last 9 years.
If you would like more information, you can view the webcast of the full meeting here Information and documents for the meeting, can be found here.
Anyone struggling to pay their council tax is advised to contact their local District or Borough Council who can advise whether they are eligible for a discount or exemption.
Further advice about local and national support available for people struggling to manage increased household costs can be found at https://www.costoflivingwarwickshire.co.uk/