North Yorkshire set for tax rise as social care costs bite

John Weighell, leader of North Yorkshire County Council.
John Weighell, leader of North Yorkshire County Council.
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YORKSHIRE’S biggest Conservative-run council looks set to defy the Government’s call on authorities to freeze council tax for the second year in a row.

North Yorkshire County Council’s executive is expected to approve an increase just below two per cent next week, a decision which will need approval by the full council.

In common with many other Yorkshire councils, the county has been forced to make huge budget savings in response to reductions in their funding from central government.

The coalition has consistently offered councils extra money – the equivalent of a one per cent rise in council tax – as a reward for freezing their bills.

But last year, North Yorkshire brought years of freezes to an end and looks likely to increase bills again this year.

Council leader John Weighell said county councils were suffering under funding mechanisms introduced by the Government to encourage new house-building and business growth.

He added: “The biggest single problem is in health and social care. It is the care budget that is the problem for all single tier and top tier authorities.

“Small unitary authorities and counties are definitely suffering from the care funding situation.”

The Local Government Association warned last week that rising demand for adult social care and falling grants meants that councils would have little money to pay for anything else by the end of the decade.

North Yorkshire County Council already has plans in place to make savings worth £58m over the next five years.

A report to be considered by senior councillors next week warns that a further £14m of cuts have yet to be found but no fresh proposals are being put forward at this point.

The budget for the coming year is also likely to include £4m 
to help support the rollout of 
superfast broadband across the county.

Superfast broadband is already being delivered across the county through a contract with BT but that will not reach all areas.

The £4m allocated for this year is designed to help fund efforts to reach the remotest parts of the county.

Coun Weighell said: “North Yorkshire is well ahead of other rural areas but getting to 100 per cent coverage will be challenging.”