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Funding to protect vulnerable communities and to improve the condition of roads prioritised

30 January 2024

Recommendations have been made to prioritise funding in the county council’s budget over the next year to protect the most vulnerable and to improve the condition of highways.

This has been a challenging process to close a funding gap of £37.4m, delivered through a range of service led savings, an increase in some fees and charges, and a limited use of reserves. The budget proposals are also based on a 4.99% increase in Council Tax.

Today (Tuesday, 30 January), members of the Strategy, Resources and Performance Committee, agreed to refer the budget proposals in the council’s draft business plan, to Full Council on 13 February.

The proposals include prioritised funding aligned to the county council’s vision to make Cambridgeshire greener, fairer and more caring:

  • £57m to sustain children’s and adults’ social care services.
  • £23m to strengthen and improve the highways across the county, a significant issue of concern amongst many residents, as well as prioritising safe and sustainable travel on our footpaths and cycleways;
  • In addition, the council is prioritising support for vulnerable communities, with £3m to continue providing holiday food vouchers for those most in need; £2.2m to deliver anti-poverty initiatives; £1.3m into more accessible libraries.

Cllr Lucy Nethsingha, Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “We’re prioritising our limited funding in a number of key areas to make our county greener, fairer and more caring. Whether that is the £57 million to sustain children’s and adult social care services; or £23m into improving the standard of our highways – where we have really listened to, and acted on, residents’ concerns.

“It also delivers a balanced council budget for 2024/25, no mean feat after more than ten years of national underfunding, with a proposed increase of council tax of 4.99%. This increase is a difficult proposal to make – but we’re balancing this against protecting the needs of our most vulnerable communities and the state of the economy.

“In recent weeks, we’ve cautiously welcomed the additional £500m that the County Council Network has secured from Government across the country. It is frustrating for this to come in so late, well after most councils have set their budget. But we have yet to see what strings are attached to this one-year funding, that don’t address the longer term need for a Fair Funding Settlement in Cambridgeshire.”

Cllr Elisa Meschini, Deputy Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, added: “These budget proposals put vulnerable communities at the very heart of what we are delivering. We know from listening to our residents, that those with the most needs continue to feel the squeeze from the cost of living pressures. We are also anticipating the ending of the government’s Household Support Fund from the end of March. This is why we are proposing £3m to continue providing holiday food vouchers for those most in need.”

Cllr Tom Sanderson, Leader of the Independent Group on the council, said: “We’re also trying to deliver services closer to communities. That’s why we’re proposing to invest £1.3m into extending what we offer through our libraries, including how they can support vulnerable communities. The council is also looking to prioritise £2.2m funding, to deliver anti-poverty initiatives.”