Boost for Adult Social Care following budget consultation
Adult social care services are set for an extra £1.25 million to help support and cushion these from deeper cuts, in changes that Telford & Wrekin Council wants to make to its budget proposals.
This follows consultation in the borough during in which the Council contacted many thousands of residents seeking their views on its proposals.
The budget seeks to freeze council tax for a third year in a row and puts forward a number of one-off investments funded from one-off resources available in the current financial year from the Council’s careful financial management.
Since the budget was first published last month, projections for additional income from growth in business rates due to the success of the council’s business growth agenda has strengthened.
New companies moving into the borough and some existing firms expanding is bringing both jobs and additional business rates – some of which the Council can keep to help protect front line services.
The extra income from new business and growth is now projected to be £10 million for next year, up from £8.8 million reported in January.
This allows the Council to propose to raise the safety net support for adult services by £1.25 million to £2.5 million and will help to phase in savings needed to meet the unprecedented cuts in Government grant. This change responds to concerns raised during the consultation about cuts in adult social care.
Early savings and careful financial management also allow the Council to propose a range of new initiatives to further support its priorities. These include:
• A £1 million fund to boost high streets and the borough’s district centres, to help these to attract more visitors and business
• Free swimming for residents over 50 free at council pools until 2020 to help improve health. Residents under 16s already swim for free. This would mean that 54% of people in the borough could swim for free and would cost £200,000 over four years.
• £1 million to run the Community Pride Fund again in 2017/18, which community groups and businesses can bid for. The 2014 scheme was hugely oversubscribed with the value of applications for the £1 million fund totalling £2.5 million
• £650,000 to support regeneration in St Georges, including funding to help refurbish the Council-owned Gower St former youth centre
• An additional £250,000 to support events to help attract more visitors to the borough and promote it as a destination.
• £270,000 to support the Council’s initiative with Just Credit Union to offer an ethical alternative to expensive pay day lenders and continue support for Telford Crisis Network’s foodbank.
• Almost £4 million to help roll out superfast broadband to parts of the borough where there is no broadband infrastructure and where none is planned. This 2 year scheme when complete will see 96% of borough homes and businesses have superfast broadband coverage
• An additional £750,000 to boost the Council £13,800,000 Pride in Your Community programme and to continue the work of the Parish Environmental Action Teams until 2017. There are currently nine of these teams funded by Telford & Wrekin and parish and town councils to carry out extra work to make these areas even cleaner and greener.
• Investing £650,000 to continue the Council’s Job Box campaign to tackle youth unemployment which has already seen this halved in the borough in the last year
• Investing a further £3.25 million to help protect Adult Social Care (£2.5 million and Children’s Safeguarding (£750,000) from deeper cuts
The Council reached many thousands of people during its budget consultation, receiving comments from around 1,600. Three in four people who gave their views on the investment proposals backed the overall budget package.
Telford & Wrekin’s business supporting approach, which has helped the borough economy grow by almost 50% more than the national average over the last 3 years, will boost the Council’s budget by an extra £10 million next year in total. This will be used to help support services for vulnerable adults and children from deeper cuts.
The Council is also proposing to lessen the initial savings proposals related to its outdoor centre Arthog and the Music Service, following comments received during the consultation.
Cllr Bill McClements, cabinet member for finance and enterprise, said: "I have enjoyed attending over 20 consultation events and speaking to hundreds of people during the consultation and have listened carefully to the very broad range of views expressed.
"Many people wanted us to do more to help adult social care and as a result we propose to double the cushion funding for adult social care to £2.5 million next year.
"This will allow more time to help us find the savings we have no choice but to make in this area, which accounts for around a third of the Council’s budget, against continuing and increasingly difficult cuts in Government grant unprecedented in scale and the protracted length of time that we are seeing cuts year after year.
"Next year alone our main grant from Government has been slashed by over £10 million or 25% - this is the scale of what we are having to deal with year after year.
"At the same time we’re committing to freeze council tax for the next 2 years, already one of the lowest in the region and make a range of investments to improve life in the borough.
"Our positive approach to supporting investment, jobs and growth is yielding £10 million a year extra for the Council - money that is directly supporting vital services for vulnerable children and adults."
The budget report will go to cabinet on 26 February and the budget is set by the Council when it meets on 5 March