Warwickshire council tax to go up by 3.75% - here's what the money will be spent on

Shire Hall, the county council's headquarters.Shire Hall, the county council's headquarters.
Shire Hall, the county council's headquarters.
Just over half of the increase will be ring-fenced for adult social care

A council tax increase of 3.75% - 2% of which will be ring-fenced for adult social care - was also agreed along with £65m of savings over the next five years.

Outlining his plans at the full council meeting, deputy leader and portfolio holder for finance and property, Cllr Peter Butlin (Con, Admirals and Cawston) said: “The last two years have been difficult for us all - we have faced challenges and lived through circumstances that many of us would not believe possible.

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“Through the ups and downs and commitment of our officers and residents, we have been able to remain true to our ambition to make Warwickshire the best it can be, sustainable now and for future generations.

“The budget that I am recommending to you today will continue to ensure that Warwickshire’s finances are robust and sustainable.

"The growth in demand is being felt across all services we provide for the residents of Warwickshire but I just want to underline areas that underlie our commitment to the most vulnerable in our communities.

“Our budget will mean investing over £14m to meet the growing numbers of our eldery citizens and vulnerable adults who need our help and support and there will be more than £10m for our children’s social care services to meet the costs arising from increasing numbers of children and families needing our support.”

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A Liberal Democrat proposal to increase county councillor grants by £2,000 to £8,000 each year to help boost local communities recover from Covid was accepted as a friendly amendment before Cllr Butlin outlined where the savings would be made.

He said: “Our budget proposals include the delivery of a further £65m of budget reductions over the next five years through better procurement, improvements in efficiency, increased income and delivery reductions on demand bringing the total reductions to over £150m.

“We all use the services the county council provides and understand the pressures our residents are under when dealing with increased energy costs and inflation. That is why, when we found out that the housing growth in Warwickshire was more than we thought, we were keen to use some of that additional money to reduce the increase in the council tax and I’m really pleased to be able to announce - without undermining our long-term sustainability - instead of the 4% increase we thought we would need, we have been able to reduce the increase to 3.75%.

“Both elements are below the maximum increase we could make and well below the current rate of inflation. It will be the equivalent of £1.10 per week for a band D swelling and this money will be used for the benefit of residents in Warwickshire.”

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Opposition groups have put forward their alternative budgets.

Cllr Jerry Roodhouse (Lib Dem, Eastlands), leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said: “Liberal Democrats have put together a set of proposals that invests more into fixing our broken pavements and introduce a highway action fund for 20mph speed limits, adult social care and children services including tackling long covid .

“We are calling on the Tory administration to join with us and ensure that we see a fairer, more caring and greener Warwickshire.”

Among the group’s proposals were a £3m fund to tackle the worsening state of Warwickshire pavements and £400,000 over the next five years to help deliver the council’s outdoor education strategy. A further £500,000 would have been invested over the next five years to support those with Dementia and Alzheimer’s and their carers.

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A key element of the Labour proposals was investment in the county’s youngest children and those in care.

Deputy group leader Cllr Sarah Feeney (Lab, Benn) told the full council meeting {TUE]: “We have asked for £1.4m for investment in the first 1,001 days of life. A child’s life chances are impacted by their experiences and we need to give all our children the best start in life.

“For those in our care we can do better. We propose that the small home pilot for our

children in care project be increased to three homes. We believe that not only will it give better outcomes to be in a small family-like unit for our children but it will also help us address the difficulties in finding the right place for those young people.”

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The Green budget included a transport transformation plan and fund.

Group leader Cllr Jonathan Chilvers (Green, Leamington Brunswick) said: “The administration’s direction on this is frankly not good enough. In Warwickshire, vehicles release one million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year. It’s the biggest area of emissions that we as the highway authority have influence over.

“Just a 1% reduction would do far more than eliminating emissions from our entire estate. And yet this administration goes on its merry way irresponsibly building more and bigger roads at vast cost, tearing up our countryside, poisoning our lungs.”

All three alternative budgets failed to win approval while the one put forward by the ruling Conservative group - with the inclusion of a friendly amendment from the Lib Dems raising the grants available to county councillors to £8,000 - being voted through by 37 votes to 12.