Please see this press release from the new Somerset Council
The budget for the new Somerset Council was approved today (22 Feb 2023).
Councillor Liz Leyshon, Deputy Leader and Executive Lead Member for Finance and Human Resources, said: “This has been the most difficult budget setting that any of us can remember. Inflation has been a huge pressure on the cost of providing council services and post-Covid we have seen rises in demand from Somerset residents for very complex support from both Adult Social Care and Children’s Services.”
The budget confirms an overall rise of 4.99% in the council’s share of council tax, made up of a basic rise of 2.99 per cent in council tax and the 2 per cent adult social care levy. The increase is in line with Government policy and councils across the UK that have responsibility for Adult Social Care and Children’s Services*.
The first budget for Somerset Council includes substantial increases in funding for Adult Social Care and Children’s Services by £28million and £19 million respectively, to reflect that growth in demand and cost. The new budget provides start-up support for the Local Community Networks (LCN) and has protected funding for the voluntary and community sector.
Cllr Leyshon continued: “We have had the challenge of bringing five council budgets together into the new unitary Somerset Council. In doing this we’ve been at great pains to defend the frontline services that touch everybody’s lives.
“We are prioritising support for our most vulnerable residents, but we have rejected options to close some of our household waste recycling centres and all of our libraries will remain open with unchanged hours. That won’t be the case elsewhere in the country, but I feel we have a contract with residents, both through council tax and voting, and they expect their council tax to be spent on services available to all. We would have not been able to do this without the savings that have come from the move to a single council.
“Of course, we know a great many residents are struggling to deal with the cost-of-living crisis. We have created a new and simplified Council Tax Reduction Scheme and in creating the new Council we have also expanded the Exceptional Hardship Scheme to the whole of Somerset and increased the funds available for people who need support for the first time, or more support with their household overhead costs.”
The Council dropped a proposal to remove funding for many parish grit bins after the option was criticised during public consultation and through Scrutiny, and will now concentrate on pilot projects to work with local communities to improve gritting of the secondary network of roads in Somerset.
The rise in Somerset Council’s share of Council Tax is made up of basic rise of 2.99 per cent in Council Tax and the 2 per cent adult social care levy. As a result of these proposals the council tax proposed for a Band D property will increase by £78.24 each year, or £1.50 per week.