North Yorkshire County Council’s Executive has today (31 January) recommended an increase in general council tax next year of 1.99% along with a 2% social care precept.

The recommendation forms part of County Council’s long-term plan for savings and investment in the county and was made against a backdrop of increasing pressure on council services, the progress of the council’s transformation programme and the continuing need to make savings.

By April, the County Council will have delivered nearly £127m of savings and identified a further £33m to be made by 2020. However, there remains a shortfall of nearly £10m to be met by 2020/21.

At the same time, the council recognises the need to continue to invest in programmes such as superfast broadband, extra care facilities, prevention services for vulnerable people and maintenance of the county’s extensive roads network to boost growth and economic development.

The County Council’s financial strategy is based on a similar 3.99% increase each year up to 2020 in order to prioritise frontline services.

The cost of the recommended rise to the average band D household would be an additional £45.64 a year (£3.80 a month or 88p a week). The recommendation will be considered by the full County Council at its meeting on 15 February.

“We know that people face pressure on their finances,” said County Councillor Carl Les, North Yorkshire’s Leader. “Many families are struggling to make ends meet and we do not want to add significantly to their burden.”

However, the County Council remains concerned about the increasing pressures it faces, not least in adult social care, and will continue to push for a fairer government funding deal given the current low levels of funding; the higher numbers of older people; and the higher costs of delivering in a large rural county.

The council will take advantage of the full amount of the social care precept currently permitted by the government, but feels this is best done evenly across three years – balancing the need for funding of critical services, including adult social care, with affordability for the local taxpayer – rather than accept the government’s offer to front-load it over two years.

“We face enormous challenges in delivering frontline services,” said Cllr Les, “but we will continue to work with partners in the NHS and the voluntary sector to deliver high-quality, sustainable services. We will continue to innovate and improve to support older and vulnerable people in living well and independently in their communities for as long as possible.”

Deputy leader County Councillor Gareth Dadd, who is responsible for financial planning, added: “So far we will have made £170 million worth of savings and we’re dealing with the challenges we face head-on while protecting the most vulnerable in our society. We are ahead of the curve compared with many other local authorities.”