Cash injection for services for vulnerable children and adults in Devon

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Devon County Council Building (courtesy: Joe Ives / LDRS)

Spending is expected to increase by more than 10% next year

Spending on services for children and vulnerable adults in Devon is expected to increase by more than 10% next year.

The ruling County Council Cabinet has backed a target budget that would see total spending increase by 8.4% – with a combined £ 30million top-up for pressurized services for children and adults.

The Tory-led council wants to spend £ 629million in the next financial year starting in April, up from £ 580million, under its current plans – but the final budget won’t be approved until early in next year.

The council has yet to determine how much money it will get from the government next year, but that is expected to be announced next week. [commencing 13 December], and will inform Devon County Council decisions on the element of the council tax from next April.

If the target budget is passed, adult care and health will receive the biggest infusion of £ 18.2million and spending on children’s services will increase by £ 11.6million.

Both departments face the greatest operational pressures, with spending this year currently estimated at £ 12million over budget.

Spending on highways is expected to increase very slightly – by 0.4% – while communities and public health will get 2.4% more and business services will receive an increase of 1.9%.

Despite the overall council spending increase of £ 49million, Cabinet members have been warned it is expected to be well below the £ 87.5million estimated for ‘inflation and pressures’.

Financial advisor Phil Twiss (Conservative, Feniton & Honiton) said: “It is important to recognize the pressures facing services experienced both locally and nationally.

“The unprecedented circumstances we are facing have exacerbated and created growth in demand, a growing cost base, labor market dynamics and staff shortages – a perfect storm if you will.”

He said the council proposes to use “a fairly large chunk of our reserves” to invest in services for adults and children, “to further sustain time-limited pressures, by investing to save programs and to deliver. these essential services provide a respite to manage demand and transform even more… ”

But he warned: “These reserves, which are currently healthy, can only be spent once of course. We cannot become dependent on them to support the delivery of basic services.

Confirmation expected next week of the amount of funding the councils will receive from central government next year will help clarify the potential budget. A report to the cabinet explained that “until then, the authority will not have any certainty as to its funding”.

Cllr Twiss added: “There remains a risk that the funding will not be at this level, but also the potential that it will be a little better, so I am optimistic about that, as always.”

Opposition leader Councilor Alan Connett (Lib Dem, Exminster & Haldon) said he hoped the savings plans – estimated at £ 38million – would be “rather more realistic” than the latter years and criticized the plan for business services to receive a greater spending increase than highways.

“For most people, their lived experience is made up of bad roads, potholes, fading white lines – those simple things that actually help people. “

He added that it “would really make a difference on the roads where people live, drive, experience and love white lines, for example, because it improves road safety. They are fading and we need to improve it.

Labor group leader Councilor Rob Hannaford (Exwick & St Thomas) said the increase in services for adults and children was the “right move” but questioned whether the planned increase of 2.4 % in communities and public health was sufficient due to ongoing impacts. of covid.

The cabinet unanimously backed the proposals, but they won’t be finalized until February.

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