Following the confirmation of the government’s commitment to achieve a budget surplus by 2020, Herefordshire Council anticipates reductions in local government spending to continue, reducing by over half by 2020.
Support will be provided to secure launch funding to create a new university in Hereford, focused on engineering, in 2016.
Half of all local business rate income is currently paid to central government. National consultation on the implementation of 100% business rate retention by local government will be concluded by the end of the parliament. This will come with additional responsibilities, including £7m public health funding, so there will be no gain to the county.
Adult social care
Chancellor George Osborne recognised pressures on social care costs, currently at £76m annually for Herefordshire. Local authorities will be given an additional 2% flexibility on their current council tax referendum threshold to be used entirely for adult social care, potentially £1.7m for Herefordshire. If charged this would be used to protect existing services.
The government will introduce the first ever national funding formula for schools, high needs and early years. A detailed consultation will be launched in 2016 and the new formulae will be implemented from 2017/18.
The autumn statement provides £250m nationally over the next five years to tackle potholes. The proposed county road projects are not expected to be affected by the budget announcement.
Leader of the council, Councillor Tony Johnson said: “The announcement confirms the budget reductions we expected and we are pleased to hear of investment in the county in the form of a new university. Whilst there are significant budget challenges ahead, there will be plenty of opportunity for Herefordshire to establish itself as a prosperous county.”
The budget proposals will be considered further and reflected in the council's medium term financial strategy, which is due to be approved by full Council in February 2016.