Cabinet approves financial plans

Somerset County Council’s Cabinet today gave its approval to savings proposals of £6m and a freeze in Council Tax.

Cabinet unanimously agreed its Medium Term Financial Plan, recommending that it be agreed by Full Council which meets on 19th February to agree the Council’s budget. It also included a major decision about the future of the Learning Disabilities service.

The plan, shaped in part by widespread consultation with the public, delivers a balanced budget through savings and, importantly, increased income from fees and charges and more money from business rates.

It includes £46m of new capital investment in areas such as roads and school buildings and lighting; as well as savings in areas such as youth and community services, funding for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sheltered Housing support.

Leader of the Council John Osman said: “It’s vitally important that we balance the budget and we have managed to do so through savings and increasing income. These proposals for £6m of savings are on top of the savings of £4m agreed in November.

“It’s important that we are also positive about all the good work that the Council does. We must not forget the £300m worth of good services that this Council and its staff are providing. No councillor or officer wants to be in a position of having to make savings like this, but these are the sorts of decisions that this authority, like many others, have to take.”

The Cabinet also approved a recommendation to move the in-house Learning Disability Provider Service to a not for profit social enterprise. Minor amendments set out clearly that service users, carers and staff should play a key role in the specification of the new organisation and selection of a partner.

It is estimated that it will cost £750,000 to set up the new enterprise. The decision will also need to be agreed by the Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group which meets later this month.