Leader calls for long-term solution to care funding
County councillors have backed a 4% rise in the council tax in a budget that council leader Cllr Paul Carter acknowledged was “high risk”.
The authority’s spending plans for 2017-18 were approved by the council after a six-hour debate at County Hall.
Opposition parties said the budget would leave residents paying more for poorer services.
However, there was consensus among all parties that urgent action was needed to address the dwindling amount of money provided by the government to meet spiralling demand for adult care.
The council is making cuts of £18.1 million in services for vulnerable adults but that figure would have been even higher had it not been for changes in the way care costs have been trimmed through a partnership with consultants Newton Europe.
The budget debate took place against a backdrop of claims that Surrey County Council had secured a sweetheart deal with the government that had been struck to avoid a 15 % council tax hike.
Cllr Carter said that while he had no knowledge of any deal, it would be inappropriate for Surrey to have special treatment.
On KCC’s budget, he said the council had a good track record but that the government had to address the adult social care crisis.
“We have transformed the way services are delivered, particularly investing in preventative services to avoid escalation, and focussed on efficiency to backoffice processes to maximise the investment in frontline service delivery.”
But he said short-term fixes to the funding challenges in adult care could not continue and a sustainable long-term solution was needed.
Cllr Carter said: “Are we approaching a crisis in social care funding?
“I think the government readily accepts that we are… and it will come round and bite us unless local government and central government finds new ways of funding care.”
The budget will see average bills for KCC’s share of the council tax rise by £45 to £1,178 for homes in Band D.
KCC is using for the second year a power to add a 2% supplementary tax to pay for more adult care.
KCC leader Cllr Paul Carter