Lowest Council Tax increase ever!

DEVON County Council s Executive has proposed a new budget for stability and for the local economy, and with it the lowest increase in Council Tax in this Council s history. The Leader of the Council reaffirmed today that despite uncertainties surround

DEVON County Council's Executive has proposed a new budget for stability and for the local economy, and with it the lowest increase in Council Tax in this Council's history.

The Leader of the Council reaffirmed today that despite uncertainties surrounding the economic downturn, the County Council's finances remain in a robust and stable position.

The local economy is a high priority with the County Council targeting an additional �5.75 million for economic regeneration plus, keeping the large capital programme in schools and roads intact.

Council Tax will be squeezed hard. At a 2.89%, this year's increase by the County Council is the lowest rise in Council Tax since the County Council started operating in April 1998.

That increase would see the County Council's share of the Council Tax representing �1,094.67 for Band D properties.

The Executive Committee will recommend the proposed budget to the Council's Full Council when it meets on the 19th February.

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This new financial year, the County Council, which is responsible for providing over 85% of the county's local government services, proposes to invest a gross figure of �865 million in services.

Roads, road safety including cycling will see a considerable rise in investment overall by 11.48% to �79 million. This includes maintenance to Devon's road network - at 8,000 miles Devon's is the largest network of any local authority in the country.

Further investment of �1.25 million is proposed for flood prevention measures.

The County Council will use its budget to continue its successful drive to make Devon England's greenest county.

Spending on providing social care to adults will rise to �255.8 million this year.

More than �42.7 million will be invested in community based services that support people to remain independent for as long as possible, and able to continue living in their own homes.

Spending on domiciliary, or home care, and individualised support will rise by over �1 million each.

Other types of preventative services, which are aimed at improving and maintaining people's independence and well-being, are also high in the Council's priorities.

The budget for Devon's schools however remains a challenge as the County Council as the Local Education Authority ranks 146th out of 149 LEAs in terms of how much grant it receives from the Government.

The Council continues to lobby Government for fairer funding for Devon's schools, but in the meantime has had to provide additional funding to schools to support young people with Special Educational Needs and special schools.

Special schools are set to receive investment of �1.7 million, while mainstream schools will receive an extra �2.3 million to support children with special educational needs.

�2.4 million will be invested in children's social care, which includes additional investment to safeguard children in light of Baby P.

Meanwhile, administrative and support services will see cuts, and efficiencies across the Council of 3% are expected.

Over the past three years the Council has cut costs through efficiencies by �37.6 million. In the coming year further savings of over �20 million will be achieved.

The County Council currently provides over 85% of Devon's local government services including schools, roads, care services, libraries, family centres, recycling centres, street lights, public transport, consumer protection and environment services, for over 750,000 people in Devon.

The Council also supports a wide range of local community projects and voluntary groups.

The Leader of the Council, Councillor Brian Greenslade said:

"This budget reflects the solid, stable, dependable nature of Devon County Council, and leaves us able to respond well to the sorts of unexpected incidents that we have encountered this last week.

"The local economy is a priority for us, and we are doing every thing we can to support it in these difficult times.

"By proposing the County Council's Council Tax at 2.89%, we are proposing the lowest rise in Council Tax since this County Council started operating in April 1998.

"I would like to thank all of those people who have taken part in our budget consultation, which has resulted in some very well attended meetings which have been very helpful in helping us reach our priority decisions.

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