Finance, General, HP

Surrey County Council proposes ‘forward-thinking’ 2020/21 budget

Surrey County Council have proposed an ambitious and forward-thinking budget for the new financial year 2020-21, with a huge investment programme for the County.

While budget pressures remain, the council’s finances are back on a stable footing after two years of emphasis on efficiencies – with around £200m of cost reductions from the budget since 2018.

The proposals, published today, are for a balanced budget, setting out nearly £1bn in net revenue funding on vital services such as Adult Social Care, Children’s Services, Highways, Waste Management, maintaining the countryside, Community Safety and cultural services like libraries.

Council Tax will rise by 1.99%, helping to deliver a capital programme ambition of over £700m of new investment over the next five years. For 2020/21 the Government are allowing an increase of up to 2% for the Adult Social Care precept, which will be added. This will help support our vulnerable adults and those in need of social care.

The capital programme will fund highways improvement, Surrey wide flood defences, new school places, a massive uplift in education provision for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), green energy schemes and extra care homes for elderly people.

Council Leader, Cllr Tim Oliver, said: “This year we are setting a forward-thinking budget, investing in Surrey now and for the future.

“We have worked tirelessly over the past couple of years to get a grip of Surrey’s finances and we are now looking to the future with renewed optimism and energy.

“We will continue to deliver the services that the people of Surrey rely on, looking after the most vulnerable, keeping the county moving, protecting and improving the environment.

“We spend £1m every single day on Adult Social Care, and half a million pounds a day on looking after children in care. We are transforming this work to make our budget go further and our services more effective.

“This budget looks to invest hundreds of millions of pounds over the next five years to make Surrey an even better place. A County that is fit for the future, ambitious, innovative, and a place where people and businesses can thrive.”

Ahead of budget setting, Surrey County Council ran a public survey to understand residents’ priorities for how their money is spent, which resulted in hundreds of responses.

There was a clear appreciation for council services that looked after the most vulnerable in society and calls for further investment in highways and transport. The proposed 2020/21 budget and capital programme reflects this.

A breakdown of the capital programme headlines is as follows:

• Highways – We are increasing our investment in our 3,000 miles of road and pavements, spending £92m on improving and maintaining Surrey’s highway network
• Greener Futures – We are investing around £84m in projects to protect the environment and help tackle the Climate Emergency, including a Solar Farm, Ultra Low Emission vehicles and electrification of transport services including buses and school transport.
• Extra Care – We are investing up to £7m in the first phase of a programme to deliver 725 specially adapted homes for elderly residents, to increase independence and reduce hospital admittance.
• Surrey Flood Alleviation Scheme – We are investing £270m to protect over 30,000 homes and businesses from the risk of flooding – enhancing the environment, attracting investment and keeping residents safe.
• Special Educational Needs & Disabilities – We are investing £31m to provide 883 additional places for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, including a new SEND school in Woking.
• Schools – We are investing a further £70m to provide additional school places and improve school facilities across the County
• Community Investment Fund – We are providing a £100m fund to regenerate high streets and invest in local communities, working with residents, businesses and partners like the Districts and Boroughs.

Surrey County Council’s revenue budget includes:

• Adult Social Care – Support for older people and adults with physical disabilities, mental health support needs and learning disabilities: £372.1 million
• Children’s Social Care and Commissioning – Child protection and care for vulnerable children: £139.8 million
• Council support services – These enable the rest of the council to function, ensure residents are informed about services, keep the democratic process running smoothly and provide support to staff: £81.1 million
• Education – Early years and education support – this is additional to the ring-fenced education funding set by government and pays for things like early help for families, school transport and additional school places: £48.2 million
• Highways and transport – Road and pavement maintenance and improvement, streetlights, gritting, bus services and road safety: £62.9 million
• Waste disposal – Disposing of waste and delivering the County’s 15 Community Recycling Centres: £67.9 million
• Community Protection – Fire and Rescue, Trading Standards and Emergency Planning: £33.8 million
• Cultural Services – Libraries, Registrars, Surrey History Centre, Surrey Arts and Adult Learning: £6.2 million
• Environment and planning – Looking after the countryside and putting in place strategic planning policies: £3.7 million
• Other services – including costs for debt repayment, pension cost commitments and further transformation support: £66.2m

In addition, the revenue budget includes spending on Public Health (£36.3m) and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities services (£41.5m).

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