Surrey County Council must find £ 20million to balance next year’s pounds as residents face increased municipal taxes

Surrey County Council has a gap of almost £ 20million to fill its budget by next month.

The County Council’s draft budget for the next fiscal year, 2022/23, estimates a shortfall of £ 35.5million, with the largest being £ 26.2million in adult social services.

But the authority hopes to narrow the gap to £ 19.5million based on an estimated £ 16million settlement from the central government – it could go up or down depending on what it actually gets, what he expects to discover this afternoon (December 16).

Read more: Surrey County Council limits council tax increase to half of what it could have been

Residents of Surrey might well expect a drastic increase in the council tax, as the county council left 2.5% of its adult welfare precept unused last year, meaning that he has the option of using it in addition to another potential increase of 2.99%.

The government announced during the expenditure review in October that councils can raise local taxes by just under 2% next year without holding a referendum, and also another 1% earmarked for social care for adults.

Councilor Fiona Davidson (R4GV, Guildford South East) said: “If 2% were billed next year it would bring in around £ 19million and we currently have a gap of around £ 19million.”

Surrey council (company) strategic business partner Mark Hak-Sanders said he expected the authority to rely more on housing tax in the future.

He said: “From 2023/24 there is actually a very high level assumption that our central government support will wane completely in the medium term. “

The number of funded seniors receiving care in Surrey fell by six percent (385 people) between March 2020 and September 2021, which, according to Executive Director of Adult Social Services, Simon White, was “sadly because of covid “to today’s adult and health select committee. Encounter.

Signing up for the SurreyLive newsletter means you will receive our daily news email.

Nothing could be simpler and it only takes a few seconds – just tap here, enter your email address and follow the instructions.

You can also enter your address at the top of this page in the box below the image on most desktop and mobile platforms.

Have you changed your mind? There is an “unsubscribe” button at the bottom of every newsletter we send out.

But despite the reduced number of beneficiaries, the cost of their care has risen by 12% during this period, to almost £ 30,000 per person.

Mr White said Surrey had increased its spending on adult welfare the least in the South East in the four years since 2017/18, by 8% from an average of 14.5%.

He pledged not to make any cuts in volunteer and community groups in adult social services, saying that if it weren’t for their support, “we would be completely overwhelmed.”

He said: “You won’t find a single cost savings proposal that cuts support for the third sector, it’s the complete opposite of what we want to do.”

Councilor Robert Evans (Lab, Stanwell & Stanwell Moor) questioned the need for more efficiency. He said: ‘Overall we are talking about cuts of £ 20million, but we have reserves of £ 200million.

“In a climate of increased demand and exceptional circumstances with Covid, why are we still sitting on £ 200million in reserves?”

Anna D’Alessandro, Surrey County Council’s finance director for business and commerce, said the reserves were needed to build resilience.

“We are a big board that have big numbers attached to them, so if something goes wrong it will have big financial implications,” she said.

“A lot of boards went bankrupt because of the covid pandemic and because we had financial resilience built into the budget, we weathered the storm very well. “

The second largest funding gap is £ 8.6million, for the high needs block which funds Special Education Needs (SEN).

At the Select Committee on Children, Families, Lifelong Learning and Culture, Monday, December 13, Councilor Denise Turner-Stewart, Cabinet Member for Lifelong Learning, a said the council hoped to balance the UNE’s budget over the next five years, investing in 1,600 serviced places in the county.

On average, an independent SEN placement costs £ 30,000 more, and the number used by children in Surrey is “unusually high”, said Rachael Wardell, executive director of children and families.

“Using the unmaintained independent sector makes us an outlier,” she said.

“Keeping them, appropriately, in a sustained layout in Surrey will make a huge difference to our results over time. “

Children’s Services is also lacking £ 2.2million, and Councilor Fiona White (LD, Guildford West) has suggested the council is overspending on agency staff, which is costing an additional £ 23,000 per member as permanent staff.

She asked if they could improve the offer to council employees to encourage them to stay.

“It’s also important because of the continued care, with families dealing with the same person rather than reluctantly telling their story to different people,” she said.

Ms Wardell said: “I totally agree that worker continuity is very important; there’s a lot of research that shows it’s the relationship a worker builds with the family they support that makes the difference. “

She said Surrey County Council’s inadequate assessment of Ofsted could be a deterrent. “Social workers are more and more likely to exclude working for a local authority with insufficient judgment and this obviously plays into some of our recruitment efforts,” she said.

“I think when we have our visit to Ofsted and as I would expect we get a higher rating from Ofsted as a result, that should also lead to a greater level of attraction for workers. social in Surrey. “

Download the SurreyLive app for a better reading experience and to get news from the areas that interest you most. Download it via the App store for iOS or Google Play for Android.