Cornwall Council’s cabinet committee has approved a balanced draft budget plan for 2024/24 with the authority’s four key priorities at heart.
It is the earliest a draft budget has been produced, allowing members to scrutinise the proposals in depth before a final budget plan is approved.
The budget has been developed within a challenging economic environment, with high levels of inflation combined with an increased demand for council services.
Nationally, the Local Government Association has identified a funding gap of £5-billion for local authorities to keep services at their present level until 2026.
Cllr David Harris, deputy leader of Cornwall Council and portfolio holder for resources, said: “Once again, it has been a very difficult budget challenge, but our financial management and planning last year has left us in a sound position.
“However, like everyone else, global economic uncertainty and the associated inflationary pressures have hit us hard and left us needing to find further savings to plug the financial gap.
“We will continue to pressure our MPs for fairer long-term funding from Westminster and also in the short term, support to help local authorities with the well-publicised financial pressures faced today.
“However, we cannot speculate on what might happen, so our current budget assumptions include a rise in Council Tax of 4.99%, including a 2% Adult Social Care precept for 2024/25, equating to an increase of £1.73 per week on a Band D property.
“This is not a decision that has been taken easily as we are fully aware of the impact that increasing Council Tax has on our residents, particularly during a cost-of-living crisis.
“That is why we are making every effort to highlight and offer additional financial support for those who need it most through our Council Tax Support Scheme, as well as other ways of accessing and acquiring help. These are all signposted on the Council’s website and social media channels.
“This budget focuses on ensuring we spend the money we have on the things that matter most to our residents. That means focusing on those essential statutory services like social care, housing and waste collection, while critically reviewing those services which we have a choice to, rather than are obliged to provide.
“It also means doing everything we can to provide value for money and maintaining a laser like focus on delivering the Council’s mission and four priority outcomes to ensure everyone in Cornwall can start well, live well and age well.”
The cabinet meeting also saw the annual Public Health Report discussed, alongside the business plans for the Corserv Group of Companies.