Devon residents to pay county council an extra £1 a week to cover spending increase

Devon residents will have to fork out an extra £1.06 a week in council tax so more county cash can be spent on vulnerable children, adult social care, roads and drainage.

An extra £43million will be pumped into vital services in a budget agreed by Devon County Council (DCC) bosses.

This includes an additional £23.7million for adult care and health, £11.5million more for children’s services, and a further £2million more to help deal with drainage issues on the road network.

In total, the authority’s spending will rise from £498million in 2019/20 to just over £541million.

As a result, the average Band D household will pay and extra £1.06 a week for DCC’s services, with the annual bill rising by £55.17 to £1,439.46.

It equates to a near four per cent rise – with half of this dedicated solely to adult care.

In 2020/21, the council’s core funding will increase by 1.63 per cent.

Members were told on Thursday this was a welcome change from the 11 per cent average annual reduction since austerity began in 2010.

DCC leader Councillor John Hart said: “This is a good budget for the people of Devon.

“The last two weekends have proved that we have a real problem with our weather. We have more monsoon conditions and the rain is sweeping everything away.

“That means we are having more drainage problems, leading to the break-up of our roads and so we have put an extra £2million into improving drainage.

“We know, too, that we have immense pressure on both our adult and children’s services and this budget means we can maintain and improve what we are offering.

“It means we will be able to support those services that help the old, the young and the vulnerable.  The most important people in Devon.

“We will still support rurality, rural buses, and highways but we will also look to invest in our green agenda.

“We will be investing in LED lighting on our streetlights, more charging points for electric cars, solar panels on the roofs of our buildings and looking for land to plant trees to offset our carbon footprint.

“This budget means an extra £1-a-week for the average Band D household and I believe that is justifiable so we can both maintain the services we provide and endeavour to improve them.”

Cllr Rob Hannaford, leader of the opposition Labour group, said that it was regrettable the council was setting a budget that heavily reliant on a council tax increase.

He added: “It may well be the best budget for 10 years, but there is still a very long way to go. This does include extra funding which we welcome, but there are other areas that remain unfunded.

“Austerity is clearly not over, but as £45million extra is going into the budget, we will be voting with the budget as we won’t vote against extra money for services.”

Councillors passed the budget by 47 votes to nine, with the one abstention.

After the meeting, DCC’s chief executive Phil Norrey said: “In cash increase terms, this is the best budget we have had for a decade.”

Residents’ overall council tax bills are made up of contributions to the town, district and county councils as well as the fire service and police.

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