Derbyshire council tax rise will help 'rising numbers' of needy children

A council tax hike in Derbyshire will help 'rising numbers of children in need', according to a report.

Saturday, 20th January 2018, 8:56 am
Updated Saturday, 20th January 2018, 9:00 am
Derbyshire County Council is proposing its biggest rise in council tax in 15 years.

Conservative-led Derbyshire County Council (DCC) intends to approve a 4.99 per cent rise in the controversial tax for 2018-19 - along with £12.3million in cuts which include a £2.9m reduction in children’s services.

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Last year, the authority - then Labour-controlled - passed a 3.99 per cent hike in the tax.

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Explaining reasons for the proposed rise in council tax - its biggest in 15 years - a DCC budget report for 2018-19 states: "There continues to be significant cost pressures in providing essential services such as social care, highways maintenance, public transport and waste.

"In particular, the council, along with other local authorities in the country, has expressed concern over the cost pressures associated with the provision of children’s social care.

"Many local authorities and the Local Government Association have urged Government to provide additional funding for the service.

"The service is facing increased demand including rising numbers of children in care and children in need."

The report adds that increasing council tax from 3.99 per cent to 4.99 per cent - a rise of £19 a year for an average Band B property and £24 a year for a Band D property - will 'provide some additional support for the service to go towards starting to address the pressures it faces' and that 'the additional income raised of £3m will be allocated to children's services'.

Councillor Barry Lewis, DCC leader, said: "Like all local authorities, we're facing challenges in the coming year but we're confident we're proposing a strong, fair budget, spending every penny wisely and ensuring we can continue to provide essential, high quality, efficient services.

"We had an unprecedented number of Derbyshire residents respond to our budget consultation, with more than 6,000 people telling us what services are important to them.

"We've listened and I believe our proposed budget is a good reflection of the views we received.

"We're putting an emphasis on caring for older and vulnerable people and children and young people, and ensuring we keep our roads in good repair."

He added: "While we have £12m savings to make in the coming year, we have a budget of £503m and we'll be making sure this is spent in those areas where it brings the most benefit to Derbyshire people.

"The proposed council tax rise will fund essential services and help us to plan for the future, and this careful planning will result in a council tax freeze in 2020-21 for two years.”

DCC has slashed its budget by £200m since 2010 amid Tory austerity.

Derbyshire Labour said the planned council tax rise and cuts would hit people hard and urged Coun Lewis to put pressure on the Government.

DCC's cabinet will meet next Thursday to discuss the budget proposals, which are recommended for approval.