Key service budgeting underway

PUBLISHED: 18:06 05 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:07 17 June 2010

THE process of setting a new budget for Sidmouth and its surrounding area s vital public services has begun.

THE process of setting a new budget for Sidmouth and its surrounding area's vital public services has begun.

Devon County Council's cabinet, the Executive Committee, met in Exeter on Friday for its first preliminary discussions about the authority's target budget for 2009/10.

DCC provides more than 85% of the public's local council services and its £1.1billion funds including schools, roads and libraries and public transport for more than 750,000 across the county

Devon County Council's leader, Councillor Brian Greenslade, said: "Devon continues to receive a poor deal from central Government in terms of the share of the national grant which is distributed to counties.

"In the context of the current economic downturn there is clearly a pressing additional need for local government to reduce its costs to tax-payers and businesses whilst at the same time further improving the efficiency of public services and stepping up support for the local economy.

"We will have to balance the need to protect vital services the public need, while keeping Council Tax down."

Following a tough financial settlement from central Government which has proved hard for East Devon District Council, the coming year promises to test DCC's capacity to provide and improve public services.

Councils across the country have received notification of their provisional financial settlements, which give an early indication of how much funding they are likely to receive from Government next year.

Devon's funding remains low compared to other authorities. This year the county is likely to receive £41 per person less than the average for English counties, which amounts to £31 million less funding for public services.

Government has made it clear to councils it expects to see council tax rise by no more than 5 per cent.

With council tax as one of the main sources of funding for DCC services, an annual cap will add to the impact of low interest rates, increasing demand for services and volatile prices for basic commodities as another financial pressure.

DCC said it is mindful of the impact of the economic down-turn on Devon residents and will aim to keep its Council Tax increase low.

The budget, and the level of Council Tax needed to fund it, will be decided on February 19.

Cllr Greenslade added: "The county faces increasing demand for adults' social care for example, as people are living longer and the growing number of people with disabilities who are also living longer. There's also growing demand for services for children and young people to address the needs of increasing numbers of vulnerable children.

"This year we want to hear from members of the public to tell us what they think

Devon County Council's priorities should be."

A series of consultation meetings are planned throughout January with special interest groups and the public can register their opinions via www.devon.gov.uk.


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