Council tax payers in Warwickshire are going to have to cough up more money from April after a five per cent increase was agreed at Shire Hall.
The controlling Conservative party had their 2019/20 budget rubber stamped at yesterday's (Thursday) full county council meeting with amendments from the Greens and Labour being dismissed.
In presenting the figures for the coming year, deputy leader Cllr Peter Butlin (Con Admirals & Cawston) explained how the budget was the final part of a three-year cost-cutting plan agreed in 2017 which aimed to make savings of £67m, 90 per cent of which had already been achieved.
He said: “Our overriding strategy has been two-fold – to grow the economy and to look after the most vulnerable in our communities.
“The economy in Warwickshire is strong and recognised as the fastest growing region in the country at 30 per cent growth since 2009 – double the rate of England.
“In the autumn budget it was announced that we would receive a one-off social care grant of £6m plus £1.2m for vulnerable people. With the principle of protecting the most vulnerable in our community and the investment required, we shall increase the council tax by three per cent plus the adult social care precept by two per cent.”
Cllr Butlin went on to list a number of areas of investment including putting £6.8m into children’s social care services, £7.3m to protect the elderly and vulnerable and steering £500,000 into the public transport budget to help rural communities.
Around £12.5m will be put into the capital investment fund to cover items ranging from road safety measures and cycle routes.
Cllr Butlin added: “All that I have laid out in this budget is possible without materially depleting our reserves. Our principle is to plan for the worst and hope for the best.”
Labour leader Cllr Richard Chattaway (Bedworth Central) said his party’s priority would be to rebuild Warwickshire’s public services.
He added: “Warwickshire residents pay for those public services but yet again this year we are asking them to pay more money and more council tax for less services – that’s the reality of what we’ve got.”
Greens leader Cllr Jonathan Chilvers (Leamington Brunswick) said: “When we looked at the Conservative budget we saw some good bits and also some holes – a bit like a half-done patchwork quilt.”
And Cllr Jeff Roodhouse (Eastlands), leader of the Lib Dems, backed the budget to a degree.
“We do welcome some of the investments in there but our test was, do they go far enough,” he explained. “They probably don’t because there is still more to do.”