THE county council has put next year’s £400m budget, which includes a planned tax rise, to the public to have its say.

Worcestershire County Council has proposed a rise of almost five per cent rise in its council tax share – with some of the money ring-fenced to pay for adult social care – which would see its slice rise by almost £70 for average ‘band D’ households.

This would push total bills for ‘band D’ homes – including the police precept, both city and county councils, and the region’s fire service precept which usually rises yearly by between £1.50 and £2 – to nearly £2,024 or roughly £170 a month.

The council’s Tory cabinet said the council tax rise was needed to help pay for essential services while also backing a £413m capital budget - which includes all major and long-term projects such as roads, bridges and schools – at a meeting at County Hall on Thursday (January 5).

Despite the proposed rise in council tax from April, the county council would still be facing a £68m hole in the next financial year and council bosses said £22m would have to be cut – or ‘saved’ – from next year’s budget and a further £45m would have to be slashed from its budget in the following three years.

The council blamed growing demand and inflation on the budget problems – including an extra £40m needed to cover the ever-spiralling cost of social care as well as £17m to deal with inflation.

Budget papers revealed the government finally agreed to give the county an extra £26m in funding next year plus an extra £19.5m for adult and children’s social care at the end of last year – which goes some way to covering the cost of providing the ever-under-pressure services but still not enough.

Cllr Simon Geraghty, leader of Worcestershire County Council, said the next year would be “tough” for many across the county.

“With more vulnerable people needing our support than ever before, and with the cost of this care increasing significantly, our budget for next year needs to reflect this added pressure,” he said.

“Government is providing much-needed additional funding, and we have a programme of further efficiencies and reform, but the rising costs and demand on our key services have meant we need to propose a rise in council tax for next year to be able to continue to fund essential services.

“The additional funding from this proposed increase will mean we can continue to deliver vital children and adult social care to protect the most vulnerable in our communities.

“It will also enable us to maintain our capital commitments to invest in the priorities that are most important to our residents. These include better roads and pavements, tackling congestion and improving public transport alongside investments in the economy, environment and extra school places.”

The proposed budget will be discussed again by cabinet in early February ahead of full council on February 16.