North Yorkshire residents are being urged to take part in the county council’s annual budget consultation as the county faces one of its greatest challenges in the Covid-19 response and recovery.
People can take part in the consultation online.
North Yorkshire County Council Leader Councillor Carl Les said: “We want North Yorkshire to be a thriving county and pride ourselves on being a well-run authority, but the funding gaps in our budget create huge uncertainty. I would encourage everyone to take part and let us know their views on our council plan priorities, setting council tax for next year and our longer term plans.”
The County Council has faced a very challenging financial environment in the last 10 years with significant reductions in government funding but increasing demand. As a result, spending power has reduced by more than a third over the last decade.
Gary Fielding, Director of Resources at the County Council, added: “With a reduction in funding alongside a significant increase in demand for services, the enormous financial pressures we are facing will continue.
“We’re committed to Covid-19 response and recovery, managing and maintaining roads, supporting adults and older people who need help to live independently and helping to make sure children and young people have the best possible start in life.
“These are unprecedented times, but it is crucial that we are able to continue delivering the help and support that people rely on and that key services are protected despite our funding challenges.”
The County Council estimates that the pandemic will cost it an additional £82m this year from expenditure to support vulnerable residents and measures to combat Covid-19 and lost income from council tax and business rates.
When austerity began in 2010, the council projected a budget shortfall of £186m by the end of 2021/22. This position has continued to deteriorate, reflecting in particular the pressure on the budget for children’s and young people’s services and the impact of Covid-19.
Savings of £173m have already been achieved. However, the authority now still needs to find a further £103m over the next three years.
The County Council is considering increasing council tax by 1.99% in 2021, equivalent to £27 a year for an average household, to fund pandemic support and recovery and priority areas. Each 1% rise equates to £3m. In its spending review this month, the Government said that councils could raise council tax by an additional 3% specifically for adult social care.
Gary Fielding added: “Please do take part in the consultation and have your say on council tax, as well as letting us know what priorities matter to you most. It’s important that people have their say and that we hear them.”
People can take part in the consultation online by Monday, 11 January, to make sure their comments are included when the budget is discussed by the full council.