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Hertfordshire County Council

Every year we ask you, as a resident of Hertfordshire, to give your views on how we should be spending our budget and what our priorities should be over the coming year.


The survey will run from 10 November 2017 until 17 December 2017.


Your feedback is important as it tells us how we can continue to provide the right services for the right people, and to ensure we are focusing on the most important things that matter to you.

If you live in Hertfordshire, these decisions affect you so please have your say. All feedback collected from the survey will be used to inform our decision-making process for the 2018/19 budget. 

 

Current challenges and pressures

Our total revenue budget continues to reduce each year. This is due to the reduction in central government funding. Since 2010, we have made savings of almost £290 million from our annual budget and we must make further savings of £42 million by 2020.  

We also face a number of pressures which has meant we have had to spend more in certain areas. In the current financial year this includes:

  • Demography - The impact of more people using our services has meant we have had to spend an extra £19.4 million in 2017/18
  • Legislative - The implementation of the National Living Wage resulted in an increase in costs of £5.6 million. Other unavoidable costs including changes in what we are required to do by law meant we had to spend a further £8.4 million
  • Inflation - Increases in rates for utility bills, business rates, pay and contracts increased our costs by £4.8 million
  • Technical adjustment - Changes to the services we are responsible for and specific funding received from government, resulted in a reduction to our budget of £2.4 million

Feedback from last year's survey

The survey results from residents who completed the survey last year showed that they would like to know more about where our funding comes from, how our budget is spent and what priorities our services have for the upcoming year.

Where our funding comes from

Council Tax income - 68%

  • We raised the core element of council tax by 1.99% for 2017/18. We also increased council tax by a further 3% to add to the adult social care precept to help meet  the increasing costs of social care.

Business rates - 5%

  • Businesses are charged business rates each year. Rates are set by the government and local councils collect these as a form of tax which contribute to the cost of local services.  Since 2013, local authorities have been able to keep a proportion of this and invest it in local services.

Government grants - 19%

  • We receive funding each year from the government in the form of grants. Some grants must be spent on specific services e.g: the Public Health grant.

Revenue support grant - 6%

  • Our revenue support grant from central government, which we can spend on any service, has been reduced by £35 million in the 2017/18 financial year. It is expected to reduce by a further £22 million in 2018/19 and it will disappear completely by 2020/21. This, along with reductions in other grants, puts great pressure on Hertfordshire to balance its books each year. 

Other income - 2%

  • This includes any other income the council receives such as funding from the NHS Better Care fund.

 

Future priorities, pressures and challenges

Adult care

  • The rising population and amount of people aged 85 and over is forecast to more than double by 2030 and the population of younger adults with disabilities will grow significantly.
  • The demand for social care will be greater over the coming years as more people are living with multiple and complex long term health conditions.
  • Pressures on the care market means it is difficult to source care for individuals at a price that the council can afford. This is leading to shortages of affordable home, residential and nursing care services for people.
  • Other pressures include attracting a good quality workforce to work in care and support roles and ensuring people are able to come home from hospital promptly when they are well enough to leave.

To manage these pressures Adult Care Services have a number of priorities to focus on in 2018/19. This includes:

  • Embracing and promoting the use of digital technology in our services by building useful Apps and piloting an assistive technology project to enable people to manage their care themselves.
  • To agree with people their care and support needs and put in place new strategies to promote independence. This includes encouraging people to get into education, employment or volunteering to broaden their connections.
  • Connect our social care systems with colleagues in health and create more joined up services which enable people with long-term conditions or disabilities and their carers maximum independence.
  • Ensure people are discharged from hospital at the right time and work with the NHS to improve the discharge process.
  • Use and promote local community resources to help people keep well and independent.

Children's services (including child protection, care for vulnerable children, early years and education)

  • The population of young people aged 0-19 in Hertfordshire is set to increase by 11.9% between 2017 and 2026, compared to 6.3% for the same age group nationally, which puts additional pressure on this budget.
  • Additional pressures relating to Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children and individuals with no access to public funds continue to grow, as recent changes in Immigration law and benefits have led to local authorities being responsible for providing families with children under 18 accommodation and support.
  • Benefit caps have also meant families with more than 2 children who have become intentionally homeless are passed to children’s social care for support.
  • The lack of availability of fostering and residential placements for teenagers has led to increased costs and it is becoming more challenging to source health funding for placements for young people with complex needs.
  • Due to population increases, changes to government legislation and financial pressures, our education department are having to come up with innovative solutions to make savings, whilst still ensuring they are delivering high quality services.

To manage these pressures, we are working on making savings across a number of our services. This includes:

  • Reducing the number of children in care and ensuring that those in care are in appropriate placements that improve their outcomes.
  • Providing support for families through integrated working and expanding our Family Safeguarding services to address trauma and attachment issues in children.
  • Working with Hertfordshire Constabulary to develop a model of early intervention and problem solving to reduce antisocial behaviour, domestic abuse, child sexual exploitation and serious, organised and gang related crime. 
  • Working with other local authorities to explore if a regional adoption agency is a feasible model in line with Department for Education recommendations.
  • Our priorities also include ensuring our Youth Connexions service can continue supporting vulnerable individuals and groups, enabling them to develop and apply new skills, knowledge and experiences which empower them to make informed decisions and progress successfully into adulthood.
  • Continue to embed the new 0-25 Together service for children and young people with disabilities, learning from reviews and integrating with other services.
  • Preserving and enhancing the existing high quality of education in the county and working to improve standards in schools we are responsible for.
  • Meet the demand for additional school places as a result of a rising population.
  • Maintain effective relationships with schools, and ensure we are meeting our responsibilities for children who are disadvantaged or have special educational needs.
  • Managing the council’s exit from existing roles and activities. The council will longer itself fund school improvement and support services for schools. It will support Herts for Learning to develop a multi academy trust. 

Environment (including highways, transport, waste and planning for growth pressures)


Highways

  • Traffic growth, changes in travel patterns and the construction of new roads will increase the demand on highway services. The rising amount of national infrastructure projects also presents Hertfordshire with competition in recruiting engineering staff, and the inflation in energy prices and green taxes will increase costs.
  • To respond to these pressures we will work towards providing more local transport services in line with the growing housing and economic market.
  • Identify alternative funding sources to reduce the draw on council resources for maintenance services and infrastructure improvements.
  • Encourage people to embrace more active and sustainable forms of travel, including walking and cycling.
  • Continue to work with our partners to ensure Hertfordshire's highways are safe and efficient.
  • Support councillors to identify areas where their highways locality budgets can be used in their local communities.
  • Expand the amount of driver training courses we offer, to encourage people to drive safely and reduce the amount of road traffic collisions and casualties.
  • We are also working on improving the technology currently available to the public for highway services, enabling greater accessibility to and from customers which is more interactive and responsive. The onset of autonomous, electric vehicles presents us with exciting opportunities to explore in the future.

Environment, planning and transport

  • Growth pressures from surrounding areas and airport expansion present the county with challenges. The plan for higher levels of housing will lead to more traffic on our roads and will also increase the county’s population. As 95% of the county is covered by some form of planning constraint, this can also make planning for growth difficult.
  • To manage this, we will continue working with our partners to support the creation of a strong economy, and secure funding and investment for Hertfordshire to deliver sustainable development and key growth projects. Our teams will also continue to safeguard the interests of Hertfordshire in relation to this growth.
  • We are also planning on implementing a new local transport plan for Hertfordshire that offers more choice to communities, and will work with public transport operators to improve travel access and choice across the county. This includes launching multi operator smart card tickets with bus operators and providing real-time information on bus times on 90% of buses functioning across Hertfordshire.

Waste management

  • Hertfordshire's geographical position and rising population puts pressures and increasing demands on its waste management services.
  • We require a long term, affordable and reliable solution for managing residual waste in Hertfordshire.
  • We will continue to work closely with Waste Collection Authorities through the Hertfordshire Waste Partnership to review arrangements, identify savings and ensure the network of Household Waste and Recycling Centres across the county is suitable, effective and efficient.

Resources (includes libraries, registration offices, the website and Customer Service Centre)

  • Continue to support front line services by providing professional expertise to inform decision making, manage risk and drive value for money.
  • Provide leadership, direction and support to help services transform and improve, for example by increasing commercial opportunities.
  • Make the most of our property and provide the tools for smart, efficient working. This budget includes the cost of council buildings and ICT used by front line services.
  • Delivering customer focussed Registration and Citizenship services, and our website and customer service  centre.
  • Continue programme of capital investment in library refurbishments/relocations and technology to provide welcoming, self-serviced and tech enabled spaces in convenient locations.
  • Work with local community volunteers to sustain smaller town and village libraries, as set out in Hertfordshire’s 10 year Inspiring Libraries Strategy and deliver revenue savings.
  • Digitise collections to provide greater access for customers and communities to Hertfordshire’s archives.
  • Continue key partnership work with Hertfordshire Armed Forces Community Covenant Board, which is responsible for maintaining and developing the county’s relationship for its armed forces community and Hertfordshire Lifestyle and Legacy Partnership, which brings together key partners involved in sport, recreation, culture and volunteering from across the county.

Public health

  • The major pressures facing our services are cuts to our budget and the need to reduce spending year on year. The rise in obesity, inactive behaviour and antibiotic resistance presents us with additional challenges.
  • To manage these pressures, we will continue to deliver high quality health services, advice and guidance that is available to all Hertfordshire residents and provides them with positive health outcomes.
  • Work closely with partner organisations and support the NHS in making savings.

Community protection (includes fire and rescue, trading standards and emergency resilience planning)

We face pressures and challenges to maintain appropriate provision of:

  • Targeted safe and well, home safety, scams prevention & fire prevention activities to elderly and vulnerable people given reducing budgets and the increase in the number of older people in the county.
  • Fire and Rescue emergency response, Trading Standards and fire protection activities given reducing budgets and increased growth of the economy and development of housing and commercial premises.

To manage these pressures our priorities are to work in partnership with other agencies and organisations to:

  • Respond quickly and plan for emergencies
  • Protect residents from rogue trading and scams
  • Support victims of hate crime
  • Undertake safety visits
  • Preparing people and businesses for extreme weather.