County to freeze council tax again
PUBLISHED: 15:00 26 January 2013
MILLIONS will be spent on care for vulnerable people and repairing Somerset roads, and council tax will be frozen for the fourth year running according to the county council’s budget plan.
A major investment of £4.8million will be spent on vulnerable children and adults’ services, and further cash will be spent on damaged roads after the county’s severe weather. The extra investment has been planned despite Somerset County Council having to slash its spending by £20million, compared to last year.
The authority outlined its proposed spending plans for the next financial year yesterday (Wed). They include a freeze in council tax for the fourth year, reducing bureaucracy in the council, keeping libraries open and investing in new books.
Council leader John Osman said: “It is extremely difficult and challenging when our income goes down, but the number of people needing our help is going up.
“A few years ago more than 350 children were in care in Somerset. Now that figure is more than 525, and rising.
“Each child can cost the authority £3-5,000 a week to look after. Of course we want to look after them to the best of our abilities, but it’s a very significant expense.”
The draft budget will be discussed by cabinet members next month.
The proposals will also see services restructured to enable the council to increase its savings.
It plans to keep all 41 children’s centres open but will restructure the service and reorganise working practices with schools and early years providers.
Cllr Osman added: “We will continue with our priorities, to care for people who need it, and to deliver all our services with the best possible value for money.”
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