North Yorkshire faces having to draw on its cash reserves to meet service demand as members today agreed a final budget before the new unitary council for the county comes into effect from 1 April 2023.
At its quarterly meeting North Yorkshire County Council agreed a council tax increase of 3.99%, consisting of 1.99% general council tax and 2.0% of adult social care precept.
This option results in a recurring shortfall of £18m and a need for reserves of £34.9m over the next three years.
We consulted the public about our budget, including the level of council tax. Under Government rules, we can raise council tax by up to 1.99% from April, plus up to a further 2.49% for the adult social care precept.
County Councillor Carl Les, North Yorkshire’s Leader said: “This is always a difficult choice, deciding what the council needs to do in its work in looking after our communities and residents, especially vulnerable ones, but also deciding what it is fair to ask the tax payer to pay, and what they can afford.
“This is especially true this year, with rising costs and inflation facing residents and council alike, and a huge demand for our essential services.
“We are facing an unprecedented range of risks – the continuing impact of Covid-19, harsh winters and climate change, the need for interventions to prop up social care, the escalating costs of transport for special educational needs students, to name but a few.
“These pressures are such that given the need to continue to deliver key services at a time of rising demand and the need to successfully transition to a new council, our final budget requires a higher degree of support from reserves than would otherwise be the case or is desirable. ”
The successful transition to the new unitary council arrangements will also be a significant feature of the forthcoming financial year.
We also have to grapple with increasing volatility in the months ahead due to rising costs associated with high inflation and uncertainty in relation to Government funding.
“Increasing council tax is never an easy option for us,” said Cllr Les. “We have always striven to be moderate in our increases. We need to understand and balance the hardship families face and the pressure a council tax rise might add with the need to fund essential services to support the most vulnerable in our communities and the services our communities and residents want to see delivered, none of which are without a cost.”
Cllr Gareth Dadd, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Finance, said: “These continue to be turbulent times. We are responding to increased pressures that the pandemic has placed on our communities and the county’s economy. At the same time, long-term challenges grow, for example the massive pressures in social care. This means we face further tough choices as we budget for the future.”