Children’s services and adult care at the heart of Suffolk County Council’s new budget plans

Published

Suffolk County Council has outlined how it plans to spend money on public services in 2022/23.

  • More money to support children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)
  • Extra resources for adults in need of care
  • Additional funds to prevent flooding and fix footpaths

Under the proposals, the council’s budget for 2022-23 would rise by 4.5% (from £598.2 to £625.4m). This additional money is generated by a 2.99% increase in Council Tax, and an increase in grants received from the Government.

The proposals will be presented at a scrutiny meeting in January, then put forward for approval by councillors in February.

Councillor Richard Rout, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Environment at Suffolk County Council, said:

“I’ve worked with my colleagues to propose a budget which will not see any reductions in our services, and invests further where it is most needed. Our aim is always to provide the best possible services for everyone in Suffolk and provide value for money.

“This has been a difficult budget to consider, particularly as Covid continues to make life challenging on every level, including our finances.

“We also continue to face rising costs and hugely increasing demands on our services year on year, particularly our adult care and children’s services.

“But this is a budget which helps us to respond to these demands, and meets our priorities for next year. For example increasing our family services budget by £1.1m from next year, to specifically to address the recommendations made by the recent independent SEND review – this is in addition to our previous commitment of £45m to develop SEND provision."

The council’s priorities are to:

  • promote and support the health and wellbeing of all people in Suffolk
  • strengthen the local economy
  • protect and enhance the environment
  • provide value for money for the Suffolk taxpayer

Some of the detail of the budget proposals, includes:

  • £1.1m increase for the family services budget, specifically to address recommendations made by the recent independent SEND review
  • £1m additional funding for Suffolk Highways over the next four years, for example to fund road signs and responsible verge cutting
  • £10m to specifically deliver an increasing number of drainage schemes (over the next three years)
  • £10m to improve footpath quality and access (over the next three years)
  • £12.8m to decarbonise the buildings that we own (by 2030)
  • Investments this year to set up future borrowing for bigger schemes, such as SEND and carbon reduction

Regarding Council Tax, the proposed 2.99% increase would be made up of a 1.99% increase in general Council Tax and a 1.00% increase dedicated to funding adult care.

This means costs for a household would look like:

  • Band D property: £27.60 per week (80 pence per week increase from 2021-22)
  • Band B property: £21.47 per week (62 pence per week increase from 2021-22) (Band B properties are the most common in Suffolk)

Councillor Rout continued:

“Proposing an increase in council tax is not a decision we take lightly, particularly when our costs of living are going up too.

“However, I think there is increasing recognition of the pressure our services are under. In our public consultation, there were more people who agreed that council tax would need to go up next year, compared to those that didn’t. This was especially true for funding adult care.

“By paying this extra each week, we are all helping the council to provide its key services, and helping support those who need it most.

“If anyone does have concerns about paying their council tax, they may be eligible for the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, which is managed by our borough and district councils. You could receive help if you are on a low income, even if you are working.”

The budget proposals will be presented at a Scrutiny Meeting on Tuesday 11 January 2022, with the final budget discussed at a Full Council meeting on 17 February 2022.

The Scrutiny meeting will be available to stream on Suffolk County Council’s YouTube channel, and public questions can be submitted in advance, details available at www.suffolk.gov.uk