Confirmation of a below national average increase in funding for Somerset Council has been described as ‘bitterly disappointing’ by Leader Bill Revans.
As part of the Monday’s Local Government Finance Settlement, the Government announced a 6.5% increase in Core Spending Power for councils nationally. However, for Somerset Council the increase is just 6.1%.
The provisional settlement is less than forecast by £3.9m for 2024/25 mainly due to reductions in Service Grant of £2.8m, reduction in New Homes Bonus of £1.9m partially offset by a slightly higher increase in Social Care Grant of £800k above our forecast.
Cllr Revans said:
This is bitterly disappointing. We put together a strong case for emergency funding to address our financial emergency, caused by massive rises in social care costs. Sadly, the Government has chosen not to act.
For some time, we’ve said the model for local government funding is broken – not only is this announcement too little but it’s also too late for us to effectively plan ahead.
With huge regret, like councils all over the country, Somerset Council will have no choice but to raise Council Tax and consider severe reductions to public services.
This is a further blow to our residents who rely on services and are already struggling during a cost of living crisis.
In November, Somerset Council’s Executive declared a financial emergency with a projected budget gap of £100m for 2024/25, due in large part to an expected increase of £70m in the cost of adult social care.
The Council is inviting the public to have their say on finances and council services. The consultation is open to everyone and the results will help influence Councillors as they look to set a balanced budget in February 2024.
A link to the survey can be found at Budget Consultation 2024/2025 – Somerset Council – Citizen Space, or can be completed in libraries and council offices across Somerset. The consultation closes on 22 January.