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Cambridgeshire County Council gets 4.9pc Council Tax rise across the line

75 per cent of Cambridgeshire County Council’s net spend is now being funded from Council Tax

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Cambridgeshire County Council voted today to increase Council Tax by 4.9 per cent which means those in Band A-D properties will pay an extra 99p to £1.48 a week. The joint administration says the budget for 2024/25 “prioritises funding to improve the condition of roads and footpaths, as well as anti-poverty services”.

Their spokesperson said they “acknowledged that this was a difficult budget process as many residents have told them that they continue to feel the squeeze from the cost-of-living pressures, but the council also faces significant cost increases.

“The county council had to close a gap of £37.4m – with 75 per cent of the council’s net spend now being funded from Council Tax”.

The council says it has also prioritised key areas based on resident feedback through its Quality-of-Life survey “and are aligned to their vision to make Cambridgeshire greener, fairer and more caring”.

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It says these include:

  • Sustaining critical adults & children’s social care (£57m). “This is not the case compared to many of our neighbouring councils in the East of England,” says their spokesperson.
  • Record levels of highways funding (£23m) “to strengthen and improve the standard of our roads and pavements, including tackling potholes, weeds, and gulleys. Directly acting on residents’ concerns – with 76 per cent of respondents dissatisfied with the condition of Cambridgeshire’s roads and footpaths”.
  • The council is prioritising support for vulnerable communities “with £3m to continue providing holiday supermarket vouchers for those children most in need; £2.2m to deliver anti-poverty initiatives; £1.3m into more accessible libraries”.

Cllr Lucy Nethsingha, Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “We’re prioritising our limited funding in a number of key areas to make our county greener, fairer, and more caring.

(Left to right) Cllr Elisa Meschini, Cllr Tom Sanderson and Cllr Lucy Nethsingha.

(Left to right) Cllr Elisa Meschini, Cllr Tom Sanderson and Cllr Lucy Nethsingha.

“Whether that is the £57 million to sustain children’s and adult social care services; or £23m into improving the standard of our highways – where we have really listened to, and acted on, residents’ concerns.

“This also delivers a balanced council budget for 2024/25, no mean feat after more than ten years of national underfunding. This has been a difficult budget setting process, driven by significant cost increases, such as inflation.

“This budget means we are balancing our costs and protecting the needs of our most vulnerable communities.”

Cllr Nethsingha added: “We’ve also invested £4.8m of additional one-off social care funding into support for children’s social care, children with special educational needs and disabilities, home to school transport and adults mental health.

“It is frustrating that the additional money came in so late, well after most councils have set their budget. But this one-year funding doesn’t address the longer term need for a Fair Funding Settlement in Cambridgeshire.”

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Deputy leader Cllr Elisa Meschini said: “These budget proposals put vulnerable communities at the very heart of what we are delivering. We know from listening to our residents, that those with the most needs continue to feel the squeeze from the cost-of-living pressures.

“We are committed to paying the real living wage to ensure vital services in adult social care are able to run with excellent staff right across the county. We are also anticipating the ending of the government’s Household Support Fund from the end of March.

(Left to right) Cllr Elisa Meschini, Cllr Tom Sanderson and Cllr Lucy Nethsingha.

(Left to right) Cllr Elisa Meschini, Cllr Tom Sanderson and Cllr Lucy Nethsingha.

“This is why we are proposing £3m to continue providing holiday supermarket vouchers for those most in need which, without our commitment, would have been stopped by this Government.”

Cllr Tom Sanderson, leader of the independent group on the council, said: “We’re also trying to deliver services closer to communities. That’s why we’re proposing to invest £1.3m into extending what we offer through our libraries, including how they can support vulnerable communities.

“The council is also looking to prioritise £2.2m funding, to deliver anti-poverty initiatives.”

FACT FILE

Full council formally agreed the county council budget and business planning process for 2024/25 on 13 February. This follows committee meetings during December & January.

You can find copies of all the papers from full council, including the business and financial plan 2024-2029, on the county council  website. The meeting was also live streamed on the council’s YouTube channel where it can be viewed.

The council says that two per cent of the Council Tax rise is dedicated to adult social care services across the county “enabling the council to pay the workforce who provide this care the Real Living Wage, helping ensure there is sufficient staffing for this vital work across the county”.

 

 

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