County council points to pressure on social care as tax plan is announced

Shire Hall Cambridge.

Shire Hall Cambridge. - Credit: Archant

The portion of the Council Tax bill charged by Cambridgeshire County Council looks as if it will be going up by about three per cent in the coming year.

The authority’s general purposes committee agreed an increase of 2.99 per cent which is expected to be approved at a full meeting of the county council on Tuesday.

The move would add an extra £1.14 a week to the average household’s Council Tax bill.

Council leader, Councillor Steve Count said: “At present we receive £75m less in Government funding than an average London borough and £13.7m less than an average county council. We are the third lowest funded county council in the country.

“If the outdated and broken funding formula had been rectified by now or if transitional funding was appropriately maintained, we would not need to consider whether to increase Council Tax in Cambridgeshire.”

The committee heard that despite a range of cuts and savings, the authority was still facing a budget gap of £4.3 million for the coming financial year, with further substantial shortfalls forecast in the next four years. There is also a two per cent adult social care precept.

Cllr Count said the authority would work with partners, such as the NHS, to address key issues: “We have seen greater pressures in adult social care. In January 2017 there were 100 hospital contacts per week which rose to 150 a week in December.

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“Reductions in length of stay in hospital for older people, from 8.1 days in April to 5.6 days in October, mean older people are leaving hospital in higher numbers, more quickly and in a more fragile state.

“This increases capacity in our hospitals but creates significant pressure on our social care budgets. Despite these pressures, we will continue to use our resources to the absolute maximum to support the NHS as we explore a wide range of opportunities for more integrated, collaborative and effective working across health and social care services.”

He said they would continue to fight for fair funding, with growth in the county adding “unprecedented” demand for services.

Cllr Count said: “We recognise that for some, this increase will be difficult and unwelcome news; we are ready to support residents who may need help to ensure they are receiving any financial support that may be available to them.”

The county’s charge has to be added to charges from district and parish councils, the police and fire service.