Maximum council tax hike for residents proposed by Warwickshire County Council

This means a rise in the county council’s share of council tax bills by more than £80 per annum for the average household.
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Warwickshire County Council is set to put up council tax by the maximum amount allowed – more than £80 for the average household.

Papers released ahead of next week’s budget-setting meeting for all councillors explain the need for the 4.99 per cent hike – 2.99 council tax and two per cent specifically for adult social care – as the authority that oversees education, home-to-school transport, social care and highways grapples with balancing the books.

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The council also plans to make around £64 million worth of savings or income-generation projects over the next five years, including £16.2 million in the financial year starting on April 1.

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It means that residents in the lowest bracket – Band A – properties will pay an extra £55 per year to the county council while those in the highest value homes will see the county’s portion of their bill increase by £165.

Any increases to other parts of council tax bills, such as the chunks that go to district and borough councils or Warwickshire Police, would further add to the overall bill.

One aspect that is going up by more than hoped is the adult social care portion. The plan was for it to be limited to a one per cent rise for the forthcoming year but growing pressures have forced a change of heart at Shire Hall, doubling the rise to the maximum allowed by government.

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“The increase in demand and cost pressures we have faced since February 2023 means we have no choice but to take the full levy,” read the council’s report.

“We know that, both locally and nationally, adult social care is a top priority for citizens. We also recognise that taking the maximum two per cent levy is an additional financial burden given the financial challenges for households across Warwickshire as a result of the rising cost of living.

"We would not be making this choice if there was an alternative that would still ensure we were able to deliver an adult social care service that meets our statutory responsibilities.

“The budget being recommended provides for £28.3 million demand and cost pressures in adult social care, triple the level assumed in February 2023, and means we will increase the resources available to deliver adult social care by at least the amount raised from the levy.

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“We expect the service to manage within the funding allocated in this resolution, including the additional funding provided by the government through the Social Care Grant, Discharge Grant, Market Sustainability and Improvement Fund and Improved Better Care Fund.”

The changes mean the council projects bringing in an extra £24 million in council tax in the forthcoming year but that and more will be swallowed by the rising cost of providing statutory education and care services for which there is increased demand.

Part of the £28.3 million for adult social care will be targeted at managing the cost of care placements “whilst continuing to make progress on our vision of greater integration between health and social care and the adult social care reform agenda”.

The council is also set to plough £8.3 million into children’s social care services, including £4.9 million towards “the increased cost and demand for children’s placements” that can cost up to £30,000 per week for one child in the most complex of cases, while there is another £2 million for emergency provision “until our own children’s homes are fully operational”.

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There is £8.9 million more to try to solve the headache of home-to-school transport, although there is more than £1 million of anticipated savings specifically on transporting children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) through cost reductions “as a result of service/route redesign” and efficiencies from wider changes to the council’s overall SEND strategy.

The budget will be debated at a meeting for all councillors on Thursday (February 8) when opposition parties get to put forward their proposals or amendments to the Conservative councillors in charge.