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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Budget goes up for discussion

Delivering a balanced budget and making a final recommendation for the council tax levels for 2018/19 were some of the items on the agenda for Denbighshire County Council’s Cabinet, meeting in Ruthin today (Tuesday).
Members were asked to consider the implications of the local government budget settlement for 2018/19, which saw Denbighshire’s budget allocation from the Welsh Government continue to reduce.
The Council is now considering how to set a deliverable budget and the resulting level of council tax. Denbighshire is proposing to increase the council tax to a level that recognises specific pressures in social care and continues to support schools.

Denbighshire is not alone in considering how to fund an increased demand for funding education and, particularly, social care.  The proposed budget includes an increase of £1.8m (2.7%) in budgets for schools, and an additional allocation of £1.5 million (3.2%) to social care.  Pressures exist across the organisation and further efficiencies in all services have been identified to help deliver a balanced budget.
To support this year’s budget, Cabinet discussed a proposal to increase council tax by 4.75%. For the average Band D property, this would mean an increase of £56.58 which equates to £1.08 a week.
This will be discussed by Full Council on January 30 when it meets to set and approve the budget.
Councillor Julian Thompson-Hill, Cabinet Lead Member for Finance, said: “Over recent years, Denbighshire has planned for the budget cuts well in advance and this has helped us to carefully allocate our resources, maintaining key frontline services as much as possible.
“Whilst the actual reduction from Welsh Government is not as bad as first feared, we need to take into account a number of other factors, such as pressures in pay, pension and the National Living Wage, as well as price/energy inflation, 1% in fire service levy and allowances for increases to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.
“The financial climate continues to be challenging and staff across the Council have found savings that will help us balance the books.
“We know that residents of Denbighshire demand that we protect the most vulnerable members of our society, while continuing to deliver the best possible services across the rest of the Council.  In order to address the increasing pressures in Social Care we are therefore recommending that the average Council Tax will increase by 4.75% allowing the council to invest an additional £1.5m in this area to support our most vulnerable residents".
“However, we also know that all our residents are finding the current economic situation challenging, which is why we must keep any increase in Council Tax down to the minimum necessary."

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