Cheshire East Council has voted through a Council Tax increase to help meet the huge financial challenge it faces particularly in adult social care.
Of the 4.99 per cent increase, three per cent will go directly towards caring for the elderly and vulnerable, where the council must fund a £97m adult care budget.
To add to the challenges ahead – and in order to balance its books – the council must also fill the void created by a reduction in government grant support between now and 2020.
The council has set a revenue budget of almost £264m to spend across its broad spectrum of frontline services. Those services will cost taxpayers around £3 per day, while the increase equates to £1.21 per week on the average Band D property.
In 2017/18 the average Cheshire East Council Tax will be in the order of £1,324 per year. This will still be lower than the national average of all unitary authorities.
Councillor Peter Groves, cabinet member for finance, said: “For five consecutive years, between 2010 and 2015 we were able to freeze Council Tax followed by a 3.75 per cent increase in 2016/17. But now we are left with little choice but to introduce year-on-year increases until 2020, owing to the enormous financial challenges that we, and all local authorities, now face.
“Despite austere times, our productivity and value for money has continued to increase. Caring for our vulnerable residents is paramount though, and Cheshire East Council wishes to reassure those individuals and their families that their needs will receive priority and our full commitment.
“We spend 54 pence of every pound supporting our vulnerable residents, whether they are young people seeking a start in life or those with particular health needs.
“We will continue to do all in our power to protect frontline services, including caring for the vulnerable – young and old. For adult social care services alone, we will need to find an additional £20m to balance the budget.
“By 2019/20 there will be no general government grant support to the revenue budget of Cheshire East Council. The speed of this change is a major challenge.
“When increases in demand, related to protecting vulnerable people and coupled with inflation, are taken into account then this requires a Council Tax increase in line with government expectations.”
The council’s turnover is in excess of £700m and its net budget for 2017/18 stands at £263.8m. In addition to the 500 or so services provided to residents each day, Cheshire East has an ambitious capital investment programme of more than £500m over the next three years.
The council will continue to invest in infrastructure through a policy for economic growth to open up opportunities for business development and job creation.
The authority is also looking forward to hearing further news regarding a HS2 hub station at Crewe to accommodate high-speed rail.
Cheshire East will continue to apply prudent financial management while protecting the essential services that our residents need.