Our funding challenge
As you may have seen in the news, Dorset Council has increased Council Tax by just under 4%. We’d like to explain the reasons why and what your money is spent on.
Why has Council Tax increased?
Councillors have decided to increase Council Tax by just under 4% to help fund the rising cost of adult social care and children’s services, protecting the most vulnerable people in society. The increase also protects so called ‘discretionary’ services which are services a council can choose to provide but does not have to, such as country parks, school crossing patrols and weed clearing. Dorset councillors are keen to avoid any reduction in services for residents.
Growing demand for social care services
Social care provides essential care and assistance for children and young people at risk of harm, people living with disabilities and older people who need extra support.
Dorset Council is legally required to provide social care and these services are often expensive to provide. Well over half of Dorset Council’s total budget is spent on adults’ and children’s social care.
Demand for both adults’ and children’s care has been rising rapidly over recent years and this growth is forecast to continue into the foreseeable future. As our population ages, people are living longer with increasingly complex health conditions. We’re also caring for and supporting more children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
Why can't the council fund social care without increasing Council Tax?
Since 2010, central government grants to councils have been cut by nearly 60%. We no longer receive any Revenue Support Grant from central Government. Instead, the Government expects us to raise the funding we need through Council Tax. This is why 2% of the increase in Council Tax is known as an ‘Adult Social Care precept’ - in other words, it will be used specifically to fund the growing cost of adult social care.
Dorset Council is very dependent on Council Tax for income. Unlike some other councils, we get relatively low income from business rates and other sources.
Lobbying government for fairer funding
Our councillors are lobbying government for fairer funding, particularly for special educational needs and disabilities and social care. In last autumn’s spending review, we did secure a much needed additional £10m funding from government as a one-year settlement. However, this is a fraction of the additional funding we need. Our councillors will continue to lobby for a fairer multi-year funding settlement from government.
The increase in Council Tax will help to meet the growing demand for and cost of social care. It won’t fully cover the growing cost though, which brings us on to...
Efficiencies, not cuts
Since the reorganisation of local government and the creation of Dorset Council on 1 April 2019, we have already achieved cost reductions of around £17m. Here are some examples:
- a reduction in the number of senior officer roles, and removal of duplication across support services like finance, HR and IT
- a reduction in the number of councillors from 204 to 82
- cost reductions have been made on insurance, audit fees, banking and other activities where the council only has to pay for one organisation rather than six
Next year, we plan to make further multi-million pound savings by:
- reducing the number of properties and the amount of land the council owns and maintains
- reducing travel and transport costs
- procuring services and products for the council more efficiently
- changing the way we provide services so it’s a better experience for residents but delivered at lower cost
All savings are reinvested into essential services for residents such as social care, highways and waste collection.
How does this affect me?
If you are in a Band D property, you are looking at an extra £1.25 a week. This takes the annual total from £1,629.75 in 2019/20 to £1,694.79 for 2020/2021.
Dorset Council collects Council Tax from residents on behalf of the police authority, the fire service, your local town or parish council, and Dorset Council itself. The figures above are the charge just for Dorset Council.
Help us reduce costs
Here are a couple of ways you can help us reduce costs:
- sign up for e-billing and help us reduce postage costs
- reduce, reuse and recycle: cutting down your waste and making sure you put the right stuff in the right bin. Not only does this help protect the environment, it means the council pays less in treatment costs and landfill tax.