More money for frontline services as council sets out spending plans

Somerset County Council.

Somerset County Council. - Credit: Google Street View

Extra funding to support elderly and vulnerable people, children in need and tackling the climate emergency has been confirmed as Somerset County Council sets out its spending plan for the next financial year. 

The budget for 2021/22, which received cross-party support at a full council meeting on February 17, also includes a commitment to continue the extended free school meals provision for vulnerable families over the Easter holidays. 

The meeting started with a minute’s silence in respect to all Somerset residents who have lost their lives to coronavirus. Council leader, David Fothergill, then paid tribute to the authority's staff who have worked in response to the pandemic and highlighted what has been achieved through partnership working this year. 

Somerset County Council leader David Fothergill.

Somerset County Council leader David Fothergill. - Credit: BBC

At the meeting, the council's total net revenue budget for 2021/22 of £356,072,100million was approved, compared to £338million in 2019/20. 

The authority says an additional £10.2million will be invested in adult social care services, £9million on continued improvements in children’s services, £6.5million on climate emergency projects. This is as well as £130million invested in major infrastructure schemes such as roads and schools with £74million of new projects approved. 

As well as this, a new £10.8million emergency fund has also been formed for ‘activities to combat coronavirus and its impacts’ and there will be reduced spending in council back-office services throughout the financial year.  

The authority’s council tax will increase by 1.99 per cent in 2021/22, a rise of £25.66 per Band D property in the area. There is a further three per cent increase to the adult social care precept, in recognition of the current demands and financial pressures on this service. 

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Cllr Fothergill, said: “During this time of crisis nationally, a time of financial stress for many councils, it is just so positive to be able to put forward a progressive budget that invests in our adults and children’s services, invests in climate change and infrastructure, invests in our residents, businesses, and communities, and, above all, invests in providing more support for more families in the area.” 

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