Devon CC Independents call for a Council Tax Holiday, plus investment in rural cycle routes and libraries, by taking money from reserves
The independents on Devon County Council have tabled an amendment for Thursday’s budget meeting asking that the proposed 1.99% increase in council tax is scrapped.
DCC would have increased its share of the council tax by £394.92 (24%) over the last five years if it goes through with the proposals.
We are also asking for the reintroduction of Community Lengths-people, to clear and maintain drains and gullies. We see this as a spend to save initiative as the cost of reactive works to flooding and the damage caused to road services far outweigh the cost of simple preventative work.
We want to see the end of commissioning services to private companies for adult and child social care and them bought back in house to create better value and most importantly better care.
We also want to see investment in books for our library service after years of decline.
Clearly the main problem for funding vital services through council tax is the unfair levels of government support Devon gets against urban areas, it is also more costly to deliver services in a rural area such as ours.
A quick look through the average council tax for last year, shows the residents of Westminster with a median salary of £46k paying £782 per Band D property.
At Devon it was £1,995 with a median salary for North Devon of £25.4K
A massive difference of £1,213!
Even if you look at nearby Plymouth it was £1,818 with a median salary of £29.2k, that is £177 per year less than Devon.
Leader of the Independent Group Frank Biederman says, ‘these inequalities have to stop, all we hear is about the levelling up of the North of England, it’s time that Devon MP’s and our own council started shouting about this, simply towing the party line is having a devastating impact on our residents.
We hope Council support our budget proposals as we believe with the hard times we are experiencing at the moment and with the impact on people’s incomes, using some of our significant reserves in support of our community is a right and proper thing to do. We have accumulated huge amounts of reserves over the years and surely they are there for hard times such as now.
We know the Police Crime Commissioner is increasing her precept by £14.92 this year and with the Fire Authority, Districts and Parishes likely to increase theirs, we as the highest of the precept authorities can help mitigate it, every little helps, when you are really struggling.’
Our full Budget Proposal is:
Budget Amendment by the Independent Group, Moved by Councillor Biederman and Seconded by Councillor Wright
We welcome and support the increase in Budgets for the Financial Year 2021/22 in all service areas, after the increased funding from Central Government this year.
We ask that Council supports us in giving residents a Council Tax Holiday this year, by not implementing the 1.99% rise proposed.
We invest £1m in Rural Cycle routes, signalling a real intent to meet our Carbon Reduction Plan.
We ask that £1m is also invested in a Lengths-person service, so that every community has someone checking and clearing more regularly drains & gullies. We see this as a spend to save initiative, but for this year, will be paid for from reserves so as not to impact on other front-line services.
We Invest £200,000 in new books for the Library Service.
Our medium-term strategy had budgeted for a public sector pay rise, which has been frozen, and our reserve levels appear sufficient at £116m. We would pay for the above by taking £10.54m from reserves this year but look to secure savings in subsequent years on Agency Workers in Commissioning services.
We write to all Devon MP’s & Treasury Department of Government, outlining the dire level of funding in all Public Sector Areas that Devon receives against the National Average, calling on them to level us up and ask that our MP’s representing Devon, vote against any measure that does not see Devon being treated fairly & equitably.