Budget DOWN, Tax UP in Warwickshire

Sunday, 9th February 2014

Warwickshire County Council yesterday approved its budget for the next financial year on Friday and agreed to make £92m worth of cuts whilst raising the rate of Council Tax for it’s Residents.

The Council, which has been under no overall control since the elections on 2013, say that the £92m in cuts need to be made.  The additional cuts are on top of the £70m that has been saved in the County over the last three years says the Leader of the Council, Cllr Izzi Seccombe (Cons – Stour and the Vale).

The Council have also approved a  1.99 per cent increase in council tax. This is the first tax rise for Warwickshire County Council in four years, and equates to 44p per week for a Band D property next year.

In total about 600 posts will be lost as the county council approved its budget after a nine-hour meeting.

Every single area of the council’s services will be affected by the budget cuts, which have to be achieved by 2018, and one area which is expected to see a number of job losses is the county’s fire and rescue service.

Some firefighters are thought to be facing the axe as the council looks to save £505,000 in the next financial year through “modernising and collaboration with other fire and rescue services”.

Another large chunk of the savings will come from adult social care services which is being asked to give up £17.9million over the next four years, while libraries across Warwickshire face yet more budget reductions, but council leaders are hopeful it will not lead to any more closures.

Leader of the council, Councillor Izzi Seccombe said:

“As everyone is aware the public sector has had to find an unprecedented level of savings and will continue to do so.  We are just coming to the end of a financial plan which has seen the council save £70m over the past three years and we are now facing an even bigger challenge.

“However, even against this backdrop, we are committed to developing and sustaining a society that looks after its most vulnerable members.

“We want to deliver appropriate, accessible and relevant quality services at the right time, while seeking opportunities for economic growth and innovation and our financial response ensures this.”

Some of the approved budget highlights include:

  • Economic growth in the county will be supported with an investment of £38m into a Capital Growth Fund which will also support invest to save projects.
  • Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service will save £505k in the next financial year through modernising and collaboration with other fire and rescue services.
  • £2.5m to be invested over three years in safer routes to schools, and to improve infrastructure for public, school and adult social care transport services to achieve savings.
  • Working with GPs and greater integration with partners in health services to maximise and align available resources will make substantial savings.
  • Transformation of adult social care services to save £17.9m over four years.
  • £16.3m additional funding allocation to the county council’s capital programme to maintain and develop assets to support service delivery.
  • Investment in the region of £1m into highway drainage and flood alleviation to enhance the county’s resilience.