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  • Investing in adult social care, highways and frontline services in York

    City of York Council is planning significant additional investment in a range of areas as part of its revenue and capital budgets for 2019/20.

    The spending is outlined in a set of budget reports being, which are being presented to councillors at a meeting of the Executive on 14 February 2019. The reports also describe the council’s proposed financial strategy from 2019 to 2024.

    As part of the council’s revenue budget, key investment is being made in the following areas:

    • Increased adult social care investment in 2019/20 of £3.9m for specific increases in costs of care/other contracts,  pay and pension costs and demographic growth
    • Key budgets are protected in children’s services and further funding of £940k has been included to support pressures in these areas.
    • £150k one off funding for additional social workers.
    • £340k growth in waste and street cleansing and £185k one off growth to cover pressures in waste services.
    • £300k to enable the council to award the library and archives operator contract, securing the future of libraries for the next 15 years, delivering on the commitment by full council in October 2017 that there will be no reduction in the total number of staffed libraries in the city
    • £822k funded from the New Homes Bonus and business rates to set up a Service Risk Reserve, to provide one-off funding to facilitate the effective management of major budget pressures, or the management of critical performance concerns
    • £1.5m funded from business rates to allocate into the venture fund, to deal with future cash flow or revenue implications regarding major planned developments
    • One-off investment of £420k to fund the continued development of the Local Plan
    • Use of £450k funding from the transport reserve to fund ongoing expenditure, in line with the decision made in the 2018/19 budget
    • £100k one-off investment in substance misuse services
    • £100k – to invest in a My City Centre consultation, which will be held with key stakeholders on the wider issues of accessibility, safety and traffic management in the city centre.

    To pay for the extra investment, and meet funding reductions, savings of £4.3m, (equivalent to 3.5 per cent of the net budget) are proposed, together with an increase in Council Tax.

    The proposed increase includes 1.75 per cent in basic council tax and a further 1.5 per cent tax increase, as part of the government’s social care precept, will be used to provide additional money for social care services, equating to additional income of £1.4m for social care. The total increase of 3.25 per cent is less than the increase in 2017/18 (3.49 per cent) and amongst the lowest in the region.

    A growing, ageing population with increasingly complex conditions are putting pressure on services.  For example; demographics show that there are 2,800 older people in York living with dementia, a figure that is set to grow by 25 per cent to around 3,500 in the next 10 years.

    In addition to this, across York 14,000 older people live alone, this is set to grow to 16,000 by 2027 and there are an estimated 2,500 people over 65 providing 20 hours or more unpaid care each week.  By 2025, it is estimated that that this level of care provided by older people will increase by 16%. These are just some of the challenges that the social care market faces in York and the budget proposals recognise this pressure with additional investment.

    The proposed additional funding for Children’s Services will help to support the increasing number of children and young people with complex care needs in the city and to fund additional capacity in the council’s social work team, recognising the increased workload. Funding is also being proposed to support the Mental Health Champions Programme, to provide mental health support to young people in a school setting, and to meet the demand for foster care placements.

    The council is also proposing an increase in capital investment totalling £185.898m over the next five years with £33.491m being externally funded, £106.022m being met from Housing Revenue Account (HRA) resources and £46.385m funded by council borrowing

    With these new investments the total capital programme over the next five years will be almost £580m, much of which is funded from external funding secured by the council as well as capital receipts, particularly from housing projects.

    Key priority areas of investment include:

    • Housing – new investment of £106.022m over the next five years, £96.450m of which relates to the Housing Delivery Programme
    • Transport schemes – increased investment of £35.055m over the next five years including areas such as the Clean Air Zone, York Outer Ring Road dualling (£28m) and the local transport plan road safety scheme.
    • Highways – increased investment of £13.777m over the next five years
    • Schools building, mechanical and electrical work – Increased investment of £5.970m
    • Disabled facilities grants – increased investment of £5.019m
    • Libraries – increased investment of £4.3m.
    • £1.5m over the next three years to deliver flood defence schemes across the city, working in partnership with the Environment Agency.

    Other major projects include the Castle Gateway project, York Central and City Centre Access measures, for these schemes more information will be shared in future Executive reports.

    Councillor Ian Gillies, leader of City of York Council, said: “Setting the budget this year has been difficult. Our focus has been on protecting vital public services but also minimising the impact these changes have on our residents and businesses.

    Over the past decade the council has saved £105m.  Forward planning and efficiencies have meant that we have managed to continue to deliver key services.

    “We are also continuing to invest in services, with a real focus on key priority frontline areas. Examples of this include adults and children’s services where we are continuing to invest to keep people safe.

    “These investments have only been made possible by the council’s strong financial position and the capital investments totalling £580m in the next five years are the largest ever and will help us deliver key projects such as York Central, the Outer Ring Road and new house building.

    “We’ve done this while maintaining York’s reputation for having one of the lowest levels of council tax in the region.”

    Councillor Andrew Waller, deputy leader of City of York Council, said: “This proposed budget demonstrates our continued commitment to protect and invest in the city’s frontline services, such as road repairs and street cleaning, which matter to our residents.”

    “Over the next five years, we will be investing £1.25m to support renewable power schemes to cut the council and the city’s energy bills. We are also investing in a number of flood defence schemes and spending £700,000 on gully repairs in communities across York.”

    “At the same time, the council will be ensuring the delivery of major projects, which will transform the city, such as Castle Gateway and York Central. These projects, once completed, will provide new, higher paid jobs.”

    Additional feedback from residents showed the majority were against the maximum Council Tax increase of 4.5 per cent. The largest category (29 per cent) favoured a two per cent increase in basic Council Tax in addition to support for the maximum social care precept (48 per cent agreed with this). Also feedback showed residents were against increased parking charges  It is proposed that car parking and residents’ parking (Respark) charges are frozen.

    The full budget report will be considered by the executive at its meeting on 14 February.  Full council will then debate the budget and have final approval on 28 February.

    You will be able to view the report when it is uploaded here: https://democracy.york.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=733&MId=11007 .

    Executive takes place on Thursday 14 February from 5.30pm and is open to members of the public or is available to watch live online from: www.york.gov.uk/webcasts .