Budget amendment for an additional 1% on council tax for social care defeated in Full Council vote
At the Full Council meeting of 22 November 2016, councillors approved a budget and financial plan which, it was hoped, would mitigate frontline services from the impact of further cuts in Government funding. The budget and business plan was approved by 65 votes to 32. The final decision on the budget and the level of Council tax will be made by Members at the full Council meeting in February 2017.
The proposed budget was based on a council tax increase of 1.97%, a weekly increase of 51p a week for a Band D property, and a social care precept levy of 2% (52p a week).
Since the November meeting, the government announced a new policy in regard to the maximum increase in council tax that councils could raise without triggering the need for a referendum. This would allow the social care precept levy to be 3% instead of 2% in each of the next two years (2017/18 and 2018/19), provided no further increase is made in 2019/20. The advantage of bringing forward these rises is that it would generate an additional £7.8 million in income to the Council in those two years, money that is desperately needed to plug the gaps in the social care provision. With the NHS struggling partly because of the lack of suitable social care provision, this extra money would help to alleviate, although not solve, the problems.
Despite being given this leeway by the government, the Cabinet resolved at its meeting of 25 January not to change its previous recommendation for a council tax rise in 2017/18 of 1.97% plus 2% social care levy. Bob Egerton and Tim Andrewes, who comprise the Non-aligned group, put forward an amendment to the Budget proposing that the Council takes advantage of the government's revised guidance and raises the social care levy to 3% in 2017/18 with the intention that this should also happen in 2018/19.
At the Full Council meeting of 21 February, the issue was debated and, on a recorded vote, the amendment was defeated by 79 votes to 18. Those voting for the amendment were the two non-aligned councillors, the sole UKIP councillor, the four Mebyon Kernow councillors, the seven members of the Labour group, three independents and one Liberal Democrat.
The main budget proposal for a council tax rise of 3.97% was then passed by a large majority.