Cost of social care is so high even a six per cent council tax rise would not help

PUBLISHED: 07:00 15 December 2016

North Somerset Council has overspent on its social care budget.

North Somerset Council has overspent on its social care budget.

Katarzyna Bialasiewicz photographee.eu

The cost of social care in North Somerset is now so high even a six per cent rise in council tax would still not cover the bill, it has been warned.

Weston Town Hall.Weston Town Hall.

The Government has been capping council tax rises at two per cent, but last year allowed authorities to add an additional two per cent on top of that, purely to pay for social care.

Ministers are expected to reveal a proposal today (Thursday) which would allow authorities to raise council tax above the additional two per cent limit to pay for care for elderly and disabled people.

North Somerset Council’s social care budget is £63.3million, which represents 41 per cent of its budget.

Its overspend so far this financial year is £4.3million, but this is expected to reach £7million by the end of March.

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Its financial forecast shows the council is considering raising council tax by 3.74 per cent next year, two per cent of which is for social care.

This represents £50 a year more from the average band D home – but it would still leave the council with a £5.6million hole in its budget.

A council spokesman said: “We are expecting the provisional local government finance settlement to be announced on Thursday and will wait to see what options are available before making any final decisions.

“We added growth into the social care budget this year and are aware we need to put a significant amount of growth into the social care budget next year.”

Cllr Mike Bell, leader of the council’s Liberal Democrats, said even a six per cent council tax rise would still leave a multi-million-pound gap in the budget.

He said: “Council tax is an unfair way to raise the cash. Residents had an above-inflation 3.75 per cent rise this year, is it fair to whack another inflation-busting rise this year?

“We know that council tax is not based on ability to pay, so rises will disproportionately hit those on low and fixed incomes.”

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