Council sets budget to protect vital public services as financial pressures mount

Budget plans to protect essential municipal services in Leicestershire are due to be discussed tomorrow.

Leicestershire County Councilors will meet on Wednesday (23) to discuss the difficult financial situation facing the authority.

The Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) proposed by the council aims to manage the rising costs of caring for children and vulnerable adults while finding ways to cope with rising inflationary costs in services and on major multi-million pound capital projects needed to support the county’s growing population. and economy.

The authority is proposing to increase its share of the council tax bill by 3% from April – a 2% increase in the basic levy and 1% reserved for contributing to adult social care.

This increase is lower than the current rate of inflation and the smallest increase in recent years.

The increase in the precept will also help fund other key services including child welfare, public health, transport, education, planning, road maintenance, libraries, waste management and trade standards.

Senior Cabinet Member for Resources Adviser Lee Breckon said: ‘The money we will receive from government in the coming financial year was better than expected, but significant risks remain.

“Our proposed budget will balance the pounds next year, but we still face a gap between our income and what we will need to spend by £39m by 2026.

“Our financial strategy is prudent and deliverable although we will still need to make significant savings and that will require tough decisions.”

Cllr Lee Breckon, Cabeniet Member for Resources, said: “It is recognized that many residents will struggle with the rising cost of living.

“We are very reluctantly asking for more council tax and we will have to reimburse residents by providing these essential services effectively and efficiently.

The pressure on the council to fund social care for children and adults remains considerable with growing demand for the number of elderly and vulnerable young people who need care – and the costs of the care they need are rising.

Overall social care costs are set to rise by £88million over the next four years, with a significant part of this needed to pay the national minimum wage.

There is also a significant shortfall of £63million projected by 2026 to pay for the education of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

More than half a billion pounds must also be spent on major capital projects by 2026 to provide essential infrastructure – such as new roads and schools – to meet the demands of people and the economy. growing in the county.

The popular Shire Grants scheme is being boosted with an additional £150,000 to make up a £600,000 pot available each year for communities to bid on projects that will make a real difference to Leicestershire residents.

The council remains committed to its goal of helping to plant 700,000 trees across the county – one for each resident – and the MTFS is contributing £100,000 to the development of a tree nursery to grow saplings toward this goal, helping to make our county cleaner and greener.

The MTFS is also providing £50,000 to help offset the cost of road closures for communities and groups planning street parties to celebrate HM The Queens’ Platinum Jubilee in June.

Cllr Breckon said: “This budget will ensure the protection of children and vulnerable adults, build on the Covid support we have provided over the past few years and continue to support.

“It offers the lowest increase in precept in recent years.

“While we may balance the books this year, we will continue our campaign to secure a better government funding deal – and that includes working with the F20 cross-party group of England’s least-funded councils to achieve this goal.”