Somerset’s Full County Council this week approved a budget that protects key services and includes the largest investment programme in generations.
Councillors agreed spending of £316m on services, supported by a 2.99 per cent increase in the County Council’s element of Council Tax and a 3 per cent precept to support vital Adult Social Care services for vulnerable older people.
A capital programme of £218m over the next four years was approved including £120m for school buildings in what is the biggest investment of its kind in generations. It also includes funding for the M5 Junction 25 improved works, Yeovil Western Corridor, gritter replacement and the Colley Lane Southern Access Road in Bridgwater.
Leader of the Council, Councillor David Fothergill, said: “I’m pleased to be able to present a budget that is not only balanced, but demonstrates our ambition and commitment to meet the needs of our residents, especially our children and young people.
“Like local authorities, our finances are under pressure – our funding from central Government is falling by £10m this year alone. But we are still able to fund our priorities – which are in line with those of our residents – investing in the right things at the right time.”
Cabinet also approved this week the proposed Revenue Budget, which sets out the Council’s day to day running costs and features saving proposals to close its estimated £13m budget gap. These include a comprehensive review of all existing and planned contracts, reducing third party spend, more enhanced procurement and a reduction of 100 County Council posts.
Councillor David Hall, Cabinet Member for Resources and Economic Development, said: “It is never easy to make savings but this is a budget that allows us to carry on providing quality services and protect our care budgets as much as possible.”
The Council Tax and Adult Social Care precept will mean an annual increase of £67.37 for the average Band D property.