Budget plans: Investment to support the vulnerable, meet the challenge of a growing Hertfordshire and to protect the environment
Published: 10 Jan 2020
Hertfordshire County Council has published plans to invest to support the vulnerable, meet the challenge of a growing Hertfordshire and protect the environment.
‘A solid track record of sound financial management’ coupled with an increase in central government funding for the first time in many years, means that the council is able to consider investing in key services.
The extra investment will also be paid for by an increase of 2% for adult social care precept and 1.99% addition in general council tax. This is equivalent to £1.04 a week increase for average band D households.
Through the council’s annual budget consultation process, 60% of those residents said that they would be willing to pay more in council tax to maintain local services.
The key areas highlighted within the budget are:
- Supporting the vulnerable: This includes the headline £12m investment to reward and help retain Hertfordshire’s 30,000 strong care workforce who make a real difference supporting older and disabled people – this will be broadly met for by the extra 2% in social care precept. £8m is also being invested to ensure there is sufficient funding to support the most vulnerable children in care. This is on top of transformation funding to develop more specialist care capacity within the county. A further £3m is being invested for Special Education Needs transport;
- Meeting the challenges of a growing county: This investment now totals £37m over a 5 year period, with £8m being invested next year in improving the standard of the local road network;
- Protect the environment: In July 2019, the county council agreed the declaration of a climate emergency. Alongside some of the existing initiatives, including the air quality strategy and the energy strategy, this budget includes £10m of capital to invest in public transport and bus priority measures. There will also be an initial £300k per year as a catalyst for the emerging Sustainable Hertfordshire Strategy;
The County Council is also facing a number of financial challenges such as continued uncertainty of future government funding and increasing demands for vital support services for disabled and vulnerable children, adults and the elderly.
In response, the county has already identified £17m of savings for next year. The council has also put in place innovative arrangements, such as working with the charitable trust Libraries for life to start in Spring 2020, which will save several hundreds of thousands of pounds while protecting the libraries service.
Ralph Sangster, Cabinet Member for Resources and Performance, said: “While we have a solid track record of sound financial management in Hertfordshire, we cannot be complacent and must continue to tackle our financial challenges as early as possible.
“Despite these challenges, we are determined that Hertfordshire remains a county of opportunity, and our budget plans to invest in key services that residents' value.
“We are investing to support the vulnerable, to meet the challenge of a growing Hertfordshire and to protect the environment.
“We also know that from our budget consultation this year, that most residents who responded support this investment led strategy. 60% of those residents told us that they would rather pay a small increase in council tax, such as a pound a week extra, to maintain local services.”
If the draft plans are approved at Cabinet on 20 January, the budget proposals will then be considered by each of the County Council’s Cabinet Panels and the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, before the final financial recommendations are made by Cabinet on 24 February, for full approval by the Full Council on 25 February
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