Rise in council tax could be used to bridge £8m funding gap in North Yorkshire

Council tax could rise next year to bridge the funding gap
Council tax could rise next year to bridge the funding gap
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Residents across the Harrogate district and the rest of the county could face another rise in their council tax bill to bridge an £8 million funding gap in adult social care.

North Yorkshire County Council has opened a budget consultation on spending priorities after additional funding for adult social care was not announced in the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond's, autumn statement.

The council said the decision put 'intense pressure on services' and as result it must consider another two per cent social care precept levy next year, alongside a general council tax rise of 1.99 per cent.

Leader of NYCC, Councillor Carl Les, said: "The apparent lack of extra money for social care funding in the autumn statement means services will be even more stretched.

"Recent care market studies show that North Yorkshire is already at a place where the rest of the country will be in 2020, with demand for services and demographic trends five years ahead of the national average.

“In a large rural county like ours the cost of delivering services to sparse populations is also significantly higher than for councils with compact, urban populations.

“I am calling on the Government to address this issue in the settlement next month when we find out how much money will come to local councils.”

In 2016/17 alone North Yorkshire needs to provide for £8m of additional costs in the budget, which the council claims is far in excess of the amount raised through the social care precept.

With 140,000 people aged over 65 in the county, more than 13 per cent of which are aged over 85, 42 per cent of NYCC's budget is spent on social care of older people and vulnerable adults.

The authority said it has been calling on the Government over the last year to provide a more sustainable settlement for adult social care and for a better deal for rural and coastal communities that tend to have older populations and proportionately higher costs.

The Government enabled councils to levy a council tax precept for the first time this year.

The Council now believes it must continue this next year just to meet the cost of the National Living Wage, which the Chancellor raised in his autumn statement yesterday.

Although the Chancellor did announce additional funding for housing, highways and digital infrastructure, including £170m for flood defences, NYCC said it was unclear how much of this extra cash will find its way into North Yorkshire.

Councillors will make decisions on council tax rises for 2017/18 in February and the County Council has launched its budget consultation online.

Coun Les said: “We have some very tough decisions ahead of us and we want to hear people’s views on spending priorities”