For the second year running, Herefordshire Council is delivering a budget which reflects the national reduction in government funding for public services.
Despite this cut in government funding, it is ensuring additional funding from government and NHS will be used to help meet increasing demands for care services provided across the county.
These services are used by many of the county’s most vulnerable people.
The budget also reflects the role economic regeneration can play in supporting the Herefordshire economy through a capital programme that includes funding for key infrastructure projects.
Members of Herefordshire Council’s cabinet, which met today, Thursday, January 19, are recommending that an extra £1.4 million from central government be put into the adult service budget for the next financial year.
This is in addition to £2.2 million from the NHS to support care activity.
However the scale of the challenge arising from the government’s deficit reduction programme means that all parts of the council will make a contribution to meeting the savings requirement.
The recommendation, which go before a full meeting of council when it meets on February 3, will mean that during the last two years the council has made in excess of £20m of savings to stay within the government’s funding requirements and ensured that council tax levels stay at 2009/10 levels for the second consecutive year.
“Most people in Herefordshire know the challenges faced by public services but we continue to work closely across the partnership with health to ensure we provide the right services for people,” said Cllr Jarvis.
“For example, we are not going to change our care eligibility criteria but will continue our drive to help those who are elderly or have a disability, to live independently so that they can stay in their own home rather have residential care.
“This can be for a variety of reasons – we fully understand that people would prefer to stay in the home they feel comfortable in and are used to rather than face being moved into a care establishment.
“We’ve talked with many of these people along with their carers and their relatives, and they’re all telling us the same thing – the people they’re caring with would prefer to receive support which would enable them to remain in their own home.
“By supporting people to do this, we also reduce the pressure on very expensive accommodation in care homes,” he added.
The decision to back the recommendation is also in line with feedback following a series of public events held during the autumn at which those attending agreed that services for vulnerable people should be a priority.
The report considered by cabinet highlighted a number of specific changes. These include:
• Substantially increasing the use of technology to support reablement and enablement
• Reducing residential care by supporting people to live independently
• Creating a wider selection of services to give people more choice of how to spend their personalised budgets
• Increasing charges and reducing subsidies to provide a fair system for users, council tax payers and providers
• Review current contracts to ensure the council gets better value for money
The budget report will be considered by full council when it meets on Friday, February 3.