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Social care the priority as council sets tax and budget

Press Release   •   Feb 22, 2017 21:26 GMT

The needs of vulnerable people who need social care were prioritised by Bury Council when it set its budget and council tax tonight (Wed 22 Feb).

Council leaders also announced a £10 million fund to improve the borough’s roads and tackle potholes, plus £100,000 to tackle the scourge of fly-tipping.

But they warn that the extra money is still nowhere near enough to meet the increasing demands placed on services.

Councillors agreed to increase the basic level of council tax by 1.94%, plus a further 3% to meet the rising costs of adult social care under a ‘levy’ announced by the Government. The Police and Fire Services have levied increases of £5 and 1.99% respectively, bringing the overall rise to 4.65%. This equates to a council tax rise of around 94p a week for a Band A householder, or £1.40 for those in Band D (see table below).

Members agreed the budget, which will require a further cut of £32 million over the next three years and follows cuts of £65 million made in the last six years.

Councillor Rishi Shori, leader of Bury Council, said: “A decade of cuts has serious implications for our ability to provide the services that residents have become used to, but we will do our very best to protect services, particularly those for vulnerable people.

“The Government has changed the way adult social care is funded and ‘allowed’ us to increase the council tax by 3% this year to help meet the huge and increasing demands for social care. While we have reluctantly done this, it just means the bill is being passed to local tax payers rather than being centrally funded. Besides which, it’s woefully inadequate to meet Bury’s needs: a 1% social care precept will raise £710,000, compared to demand pressures of £3.7 million and rising.”

Cllr Shori said Bury was unfairly funded, receiving just £260 per head of population compared to the England average of £304 and the Greater Manchester average of £352. If Bury was funded at England and GM level, it would receive an additional £8 million or £17 million respectively.

“However, we shouldn’t be defeatist about this,” he added. “I still have aspirations for the borough, particularly around training, skills, new jobs, infrastructure and capital investment. This will be vital in a post-Brexit world, along with education and business and our anti-poverty strategy. As such, I’m looking forward to what the Bury Life Chances Commission, which I set up, reports next month.

“And despite this austerity, we have found money for social care and to address issues that matter to local people, such as the condition of our roads and fly-tipping.”

Council house tenants will see their rents reduced by 1%, and £9 million will be spent on maintaining houses at the ‘Bury Standard’.

Info:

Council Tax – around 86% of the council tax bill is what residents pay for Bury Council services; the remainder is the amount paid for the Police and Fire services.

Budget – around 76% of the council tax is spent in three priority areas: older people, children’s services, and on waste collection/disposal.

Staffing – the council has lost nearly 800 jobs since 2010, many in management roles.

Consultation – some 158 people took part in the council’s budget consultation in December and January.

Where does my council tax go? Go to http://www.bury.gov.uk/

ENDS

Press release issued: 22 February 2017.

Note to editors:

Council Tax for 2017/18 is:

Band A - £1,096.26

Band B - £1,278.98

Band C - £1,461.69

Band D - £1,644.41

Band E - £2,009.83

Band F - £2,375.26

Band G - £2,740.67

Band H - £3,288.81

The £32 million cuts will be found from the council’s three departments:

Resource and Regulation - £7.3 million.

Communities and Wellbeing – £17 million.

Children, Young People and Culture – £7.7 million.

In calculating these cuts, there is a working assumption that Council Tax will rise by 1.94% for each of the three years 2017/18 to 2019/20.

In addition, it is assumed that the council will adopt the “Social Care Precept” to fund adult social care pressures; this represents 6% over three years.