Devon County Council’s ruling Cabinet is proposing a 10.5 per cent increase in its budget to fund vital services for the most vulnerable children and adults as well as more cash to tackle potholes.
There will be increases of 18.4 per cent in spending on children’s services and 8.8 per cent on adult services to keep up with a rocketing rise in demand.
And since the target budget was set last month, the council has allocated an extra £2 million to tackle the increase in potholes caused by this winter's icy spells and torrential rainfall.
Council taxpayers across Devon will be asked for an average £1.49 extra a week to help pay for their services.
Council leader John Hart said: “We fully recognise the strain that household budgets are under with soaring inflation and big rises in the cost of living.
“But we must look after the young, the old and the vulnerable and they account for some 79 per cent of this budget.
“We have a finite amount of money to spend and we have to allocate it to protect those most in need. But we will ensure that we get the best possible value from every pound we spend on behalf of our residents.
"This budget also recognises the concerns that people have about the increase in potholes caused by this winter's very cold snaps and torrential rain, which is the worst possible combination for our roads.”
Devon’s Cabinet member for finance, Phil Twiss, said: “We've been up against the cliff edge with the effect of Covid, the war in Ukraine, soaring inflation and the cost of living crisis.
"But this is a budget beyond politics and it stabilises us and gets us in the right position for a sustainable future. We are all in this together and we've consulted with the unions, business, older people and voluntary groups as well as our own scrutiny committees.
"It has been a very difficult budget to deliver but we've asked how can we make council taxpayers' money work better for them and cut wastage in the system, and the savings strategies are tough but realistic."
In her budget report, Devon’s Director of Finance Angie Sinclair says: “The cost of living and geopolitical situation has created huge financial pressures nationally.
"Consequently, the authority has faced unprecedented price and demand pressures in the current year and although significant savings have been found to offset this, many have been one off measures.
“The ongoing impact of this and other pressures have been included within the target budgets with investment of £51.5 million to cover inflation and the national living wage and a further £62.2 million to cover demand pressures.
"To enable the authority to set a balanced budget, savings, alternative funding and additional income of £47.5 million have been identified. Overall, there is additional funding of £66.2 million or 10.5% for service budgets next year.
"The national context for setting the 2023/24 budget and the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) has been particularly challenging. These challenges have brought the organisation closer together and enabled organisational transformation, with cross departmental working practices now embedded.
"This approach has enabled us to respond to the national challenges with local solutions. We have plans to deliver £47.5 million of savings and new income within service budgets that have been through a detailed assurance process.
"The favourable finance settlement for 2023/24 enables us to set a balanced budget that is deliverable and robust. Furthermore, the MTFS recognises the ongoing challenges that we face but delivers on supporting our transformation ambitions and commitment to best value in all that we do."
The budget – which will be finalised by the full council next Thursday – will see the county’s revenue spending on services increase from £629 million to £696 million. The council tax for an average Band D home will rise by £77.67 to £1,634.13 – that’s an extra £1.49 a week.
In addition, a capital budget of £172.5 million is proposed to invest in infrastructure such as schools and roads.