County council agrees to take up Government’s offer of an extra two per cent this year

Devon County Council's share of council tax could go up by almost four per cent this year.

The county's share of the tax would equate to £46.44 for a Band D property.

It follows the council cabinet's vote today (Wednesday) to take up the Government's offer of an extra two per cent rise to help pay for adult social care.

That will be on top of any rise in the general rate, which will be decided at the annual budget meeting next month.

The Government has set a ceiling of 1.99 per cent for general council tax before a referendum has to be held.

Assuming it goes with this, the total increase for the county's portion of the tax would be 3.99 per cent, which doesn't include district and parish councils, police or fire services.

Councillors today heard the extra two per cent would raise just under £6.5 million this year, which the council says would help pay for the £7m increase in care costs it expects to pay following an increase in the minimum wage.

An ageing population

County treasurer Mary Davis told the meeting: "Next year the cost of the national Living Wage will be over £7 million.

"The majority of this cost relates to those who care for vulnerable adults. An increase in the precept will help the council deal with the funding pressures linked to an ageing population."

Councillor Julian Brazil, deputy leader of the council's Liberal Democrats, said it would be 'immoral' not to take up the two per cent offer.

'A difficult decision'

Conservative leader John Hart added: "This has been a difficult decision to take.

"We are well aware that many people in Devon are living on fixed incomes or low wages and any increase in their living costs is unwelcome.

"But the rise in the minimum wage will boost incomes - especially for many of our care staff who do an absolutely vital job looking after our elderly and vulnerable adults."