Money talks

Community leaders from across Hertfordshire debated the financial challenges ahead following George Osborne's Autumn Statement.

Hertfordshire's own Chancellor Chris Hayward, Cabinet Member for Resources and Performance, and Teresa Heritage, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Localism and Libraries, hosted more than 40 charity and public sector representatives at a lively event at County Hall on Tuesday 1 December.

Teresa said: "I was delighted to see so many local people gather to take part in healthy debate on how we can work together to meet the challenges facing Hertfordshire. It was particularly encouraging to hear from organisations representing the views of some of Hertfordshire's most vulnerable people on how we can make our budget go further."

Sarah Wren, chief executive at Hertfordshire Independent Living Service, the social enterprise commissioned to deliver 500,000 meals and caring welfare visits to around 4,000 vulnerable people, said: "It has been useful to hear from Chris and Teresa on the council's financial situation. Those of us in the voluntary sector recognise the problems we are facing and know that further cuts will make the lives of people who access our services more difficult. I think we all have a joint responsibility to tackle these issues. The challenge will be finding a robust way of doing so."

The event came after Chris wrote to George Osborne urging him to provide extra support to local authorities so they can meet their ever-increasing responsibilities and costs.

Chris said: "A disappointment was that the Chancellor did not announce any new money to help with the spiralling cost of adult social care or the national living wage. A two per cent increase in council tax for social care will only transfer the burden to our hard-pressed council taxpayers.

"Given the tough financial challenge we face, this can only go so far and it is likely that we will need to make some difficult decisions in the future. Over the coming months we are gathering residents' views on how we spend tax payers' money and events like this are integral to this process."

He added: "If you live in Hertfordshire these decisions affect you. Have your say on how we spend your council tax by taking the online budget survey."

The budget survey only takes a few minutes to complete and closes on Sunday 13 December.

Follow the conversation online @HertsCC #YourCouncilTax