Leading Conservative councillors have formally backed county council budget proposals – marking the start of a five-week process of scrutiny and consultation.
The 446-page budget document – known as the ‘integrated Plan or IP' – outlines the county council’s financial position and its spending plans for next year.
It also outlines plans for £12m of efficiency savings – most of which were implemented last year.
And it proposes increasing the county council element of council tax bills by 3.99 per cent – including two per cent that would be ring-fenced for adult social care.
At a meeting of the cabinet on Monday, January 17, leader of the county council Cllr Richard Roberts said the document was “impressive”.
And he said it was a clear statement on how the county council intended to use its resources “for the good and benefit of Hertfordshire residents”.
The plans were backed by the meeting of the cabinet – and will now be subject to council and public scrutiny before being presented to a meeting of the full council, on February 22.
A public consultation on the budget proposals is already under-way – and will run until February 1.
Presenting the budget document, executive member for resources and performance Cllr Bob Deering pointed to the council’s ‘strong track record of sound financial management’.
And he said that had put the council in a good position to invest in the services that were important to residents.
“This IP builds on the solid financial management of recent years,” he said.
“It will make a real difference and improve the quality of life for many of our residents, in particular those who are the most vulnerable in our community.”
Among the proposals included in the IP, Cllr Deering highlighted the £18m earmarked to increase the wages of lowest paid care workers; and the £22m to support increasing numbers of older people and those with disabilities accommodation.
Cllr Deering also catalogued the £15m earmarked for a new accommodation strategy for adults with disabilities; and £10m to support the increase in ‘children looked after’.
And he pointed to £15m for sustainability and carbon reduction measures; as well as £35m for waste infrastructure.
Public consultation on the plans asks residents to comment on the plans outlined in the IP, as well as future approaches.
And at the cabinet, Cllr Deering said: “We will, of course, listen to the views of the public and of members.
“But as things stand I believe this is an impressive budget that will serve the residents of Hertfordshire extremely well.”
Cllr Roberts told cabinet members that Hertfordshire was a ‘high performing council’ that provided a range of ‘critical’ discretionary services, that residents have been clear they want to be provided.
And he said that finding ways to maintain these services – as finances continue to be squeezed – has occupied much time.
He highlighted the financial impact of the pandemic and the proposed increase in council tax.
He stressed that for Band D residents, the proposed 3.99 per cent increase in the county council element of the council tax – which includes two per cent ring-fenced for adult social care – would be equivalent to a little over £1 a week.
And he stressed that “We try not to take a penny more than is absolutely necessary.”