Dorset County Council has agreed to increase council tax by 4.99 per cent to help bridge the gap in funding for adult social care.
At its full meeting today (Thursday, 16 February), councillors agreed the county council’s budget and share of council tax for 2017/18.
They agreed to raise council tax by 1.99 per cent – the maximum without triggering a local referendum – plus a further 3 per cent to be used to fund adult social care.
In December, the Government announced it was giving councils more flexibility with the adult social care precept, allowing a 3 per cent rise this year as long as the overall increase remains no more than 6 per cent over three years.
The 3 per cent social care precept will raise £6m this year for the council to invest in adult social care.
The 4.99 per cent increase in the county council’s share of council tax means a Band D council taxpayer will pay £63 more a year, or £1.21 a week. With the shares for Dorset’s district, borough, town and parish councils, fire and police services also included, the total increase is likely to be more.
Cllr Robert Gould, Leader of Dorset County Council, said:
“With continuing annual reductions in our Government grant funding and increasing demand on our services, councillors reluctantly reed it is necessary for us to increase council tax.
“While the increased social care precept will help, it does not solve the problem of adult social care, the biggest area of our budget. We will continue to make savings by transforming the way we do things, including closer integration of health and social care. This robust budget lays the foundations for our ambitious future plans.
“Our focus remains on delivering the savings we need over the coming year to be able to make sure people in Dorset are safe, healthy and independent and have a prosperous economy.”
To be able to set a balanced budget in 2017/18, the council has set a target of saving £18.3m, to be achieved through its Forward Together transformation programme. This includes:
• £7.1m from Adult and Community Services – including the introduction of fairer care charges, review of care packages and integration with health
• £4.5m from Environment and Economy services – including a reduction in funding for subsidised transport and reduction of the council’s property estate
• £4.2m from Children’s services – including an in-depth review of all budgets, reduction in agency social work staff
• £1.1m from Chief Executive’s Department – including the transformation of central support services, such as IT, finance and HR
• £1.4m (£700,000 each) from the council’s share of funding for the Dorset Waste Partnership and Public Health Dorset
Read the full the Budget and Medium Term Financial Plan report (recommendations from Cabinet on 1 February)