Worcestershire County Council is planning a balanced budget for next year despite facing an increase in demand for social care.
Worcestershire has one of the fastest growing economies in the country. Economic growth along with an increase in the number of new homes in the county means that the Council's budget is due to go up by more than £6 million pounds next year. However the pace of growth in income is not keeping up with the increase in demand for social care.
More than £14 million is proposed to be invested into adult social care whilst an additional £7.7 million is to be invested into children's social care next year. Spending on social care currently accounts for around 70 per cent of the Council's budget.
To meet the demand the Council is setting out reform proposals totalling nearly £23 million in 2019/20.
Councillor Simon Geraghty, the Leader of Worcestershire County Council, said:
"These are challenging financial times for all councils who have responsibility for caring for the most vulnerable in our society."
"We are growing the Worcestershire economy and new homes and businesses are helping to boost our income. However, we are facing pressures due to the increase in demand for social care. There is a growing consensus around the need for a national funding solution for adult social care and we await the Government's Green Paper. In the meantime this Council proposes to reprioritise resources to meet those needs."
"The Budget that we are proposing includes significant investments into adult social care and into improving the lives of the county's children and young people. We also intend to continue to support measures to grow the local economy, improve our infrastructure to tackle congestion and redesign this organisation to ensure that we live within our means."
In proposals announced today £50 million of capital investment will be made available for projects to support economic growth, infrastructure / regeneration and organisational transformation. This is in addition to funds already allocated to maintaining the county's roads and bridges, reducing congestion and delivering improvements for cyclists and pedestrians.
It is proposed that Council Tax will be increased by 3.99% with 2.99% to support the general budget and 1% ring fenced for Adult Social Care.
The increase is the equivalent to 93p per week extra on a Band D property.
If the final budget proposals are approved by Councillors in February, Council Tax rates in Worcestershire would continue to be amongst the lowest in the country for county councils.