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[12 FEB 99] WARWICKSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL PRESS RELEASE
Warwickshires' Budget Proposals

A budget for ‘Our County’, a budget for the future – Putting the people of Warwickshire first.

Budget Proposals 1999/2000

This budget puts an extra 23.4 million into essential front-line services for Warwickshire people, and for less than 1 per week for the average household.

This budget is an investment in:

  • Educating our children – an extra 11.06 million
  • Services for elderly people, people with disabilities and vulnerable children at risk – an extra 5.11 million
  • Better roads, better transport, better waste management, and a better environment – an extra 1,55 million
  • Social and economic regeneration – an extra 0.43 million
  • Our library and heritage services – an extra 1.33 million
  • Our fire and rescue service – an extra 1.95 million

For more than a decade we have been struggling to keep our high quality services going with very little in the way of new resources – we now have the opportunity to re-base our service budgets and provide stability and security for the future of those services. We have used the newly restored freedom to decide our own spending levels to remedy (on a once and for all basis) the last Government’s legacy of neglect. It is a responsibility we take seriously and we will not shirk that responsibility.

More specifically the budget increase will mean:

For education:

  • Putting an extra 9 million into school budget
  • Better support for children with special educational needs

For social services:

  • Helping more elderly people stay in their own homes by improving care and support
  • Providing better support for those children who are ‘at risk’

For maintaining roads and improving transport:

  • A restoration of the winter gritting programme
  • Better street lighting
  • Improved road maintenance and transport

For jobs and regeneration:

  • Support for the ‘new deal’ – welfare to work programme

For libraries and heritage:

  • Longer opening hours for libraries
  • High quality new facilities and resources

For the fire and rescue services:

  • A resolution of long standing problems enabling the current high quality service to continue

There are similar improvements in all of our service areas and more details are available in the accompanying background briefing paper.

  • The budget has been prepared following a lengthy and very valuable consultation exercise on our draft County plan – ‘Our County 1998 – 2001’ – designed to ensure that our priorities are the people’s priorities.
  • We will use this opportunity to make Warwickshire a safer place for our children, our road users, the vulnerable and the elderly.
  • We will ensure that the new money is used wisely to guarantee real improvements in the quality and accessibility of our services.

We have been able to make improvements because:

  • We have had the best financial settlement from government within recent memory
  • We are keeping the pressure on for more savings from ‘good management’
  • Our prudent financial management means we can still dip into our meagre reserves to meet ‘one-off’ costs
    and
  • Because we believe that Warwickshire Council Tax payers will be prepared to pay little more for the significant improvements in services we will be making.

These improvements will build on our considerable success to date which has seen Warwickshire win a number of prestigious national awards for best value and service excellence.

The final Council Tax level will vary between District/Borough council areas, reflecting different precepts from District/Borough councils, the Police Authority and in some cases parish councils. However we expect this budget to lead to an increase of 7.8% in the County Council element of the Council Tax.

The New Council Tax Figures:

Band A 428
Band B 500
Band C 571
Band D 642
Band E 785
Band F 928
Band G 1,071
Band H 1,285

 

Background

For several months we have been consulting widely with the people of Warwickshire and with partner agencies on the issues facing our county and priorities for the future. The result of this extensive and very detailed consultation is ‘Our County 1998 – 2001’ (which is to be launched in its final form on 11 February). We wish to thank all those who have helped us shape this important document.

We have also been working on the Government’s priorities and the challenges of the ‘modernisation agenda’. These two important developments and the realisation that Warwickshire services have been starved of resources for a decade because of the debacle of the ‘Poll Tax’ and the ruinous capping regime that followed it, form the foundation of our proposals for what we believe is a progressive budget.

We have not been able to address all the issues but we have sought to strike a balance between what we think is a realistic increase in Council Tax and the level of service improvement that we believe is essential. No doubt other views with a slightly different balance -–a bit more on this service, a bit less on that, a slightly different Council Tax level – will emerge and we will be happy to consider these suggestions, wherever they may come from, provided they reflect the principles enshrined in ‘Our County 1998 – 2001’ and address the modernisation agenda. If we fail to reflect these two imperatives in the final budget then we will have been wasting everyone’s time since we started the consultation process last Autumn, and will fail to modernise in the ways which we feel, as a Best Value Pilot Authority, are vital.

The Process

This is the first year of the new arrangements for dealing with the Council’s Budget. The new ‘three year budget cycle’ introduced by Gordon Brown has led us to review our procedures.

It is also the first year where Councils have been freed from the constraints of automatic capping of expenditure.

The budget this year will come in two sections:

  • On February 23 we will agree the budget for 1999/2000.
  • In July we will agree an outline budget for 2000/2001 and for 2001/2002.
             
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CWN / Politics / Warwickshire County Council / Press Releases / 12 Feb 99

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