Devon’s ‘best budget for 10 years’ boosts social care and corporate services, but no improvement in community services; no wonder people feel they are seeing little for their ever-increasing council tax
Devon County Council’s Chief Executive, Phil Norrey (pictured), told a scrutiny committee yesterday that the 2020-21 budget looked like being the best the Council had been able to set in 10 years.
There will be big rises for adult and children’s social care, on which the vast majority of funding goes – 70 per cent of all DCC expenditure on 3 per cent of the population, approximately 10,000 vulnerable adults and 5,000 vulnerable children.
There will also be a big increase – 7 per cent – in spending on corporate services, which have been pared back in recent years, but stagnant community services such as libraries will see only minimal rises to pay for wage increases. Meanwhile Devon is having to maintain higher-than-necessary reserves because the Brexit-obsessed Government refuses to tell them more than a year in advance what funding will be available.
No wonder that the latest community survey for the Council shows widespread complaints by residents that they see nothing for their council tax.
The Tory Government’s austerity policies – which have not ended – are to primarily to blame. Johnson is happy that he can claim not to be imposing any tax rises, while forcing councils like Devon to make over-inflation increases year after year.
DCC Conservatives also seem content to accept the cards the Government hands them, complacently assuming that the low services/high council tax set-up can go on for yet another year without pushback. No doubt the Government will allow them to keep tax down at last next year, with the County elections on the way.