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Double digit spending increase for vulnerable children and adults in Devon

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Spending on services for vulnerable children and adults in Devon are set to rise by more than 10 per cent next year.

Devon County Council’s target budget for 2022/23 was approved by the Cabinet today but will not be finalised until February.

The target budget calls for an extra £18.2 million to be spent on adult care and health in the new financial year. That’s an increase of 10.5 per cent.

There will be an increase of £11.6 million for children’s services if the budget is ratified. That’s a rise of 10.8 per cent.

But Devon’s director of finance, Angie Sinclair, warned that the pressures on both services were continuing to mount.

“This year significant pressures are continuing to be experienced within Devon and across the country,” she told councillors.

“Adult care and health and children’s services in particular are continuing to experience in-year, operational pressures. Many of these current year pressures are translating into budget pressures for 2022/23.”

The revenue budget for highways will go up by 0.4 per cent and communities and public health will rise by 2.4 per cent under the target budget.

Overall the county’s spending is planned to increase from £580 million to over £629 million – a rise of 8.4 per cent.

In her report to councillors, Angie Sinclair said that some vital figures for local government finance were still not known following the Chancellor’s spending review last month.

“Since the spending review no further detailed figures have been released,” she said.

“The provisional settlement is still expected before Christmas, prior to (the Parliamentary) recess on December 16 but, until this time, the authority will not have certainty around its funding for the coming financial year.”

Councillor Phil Twiss, Cabinet Member for Finance

“In setting these target budgets, it’s important to recognise the pressures being faced by services locally and nationally.

“The unprecedented circumstances we face have exacerbated and created growing demand, increasing costs, labour market dynamics and staff shortages.

“The spending review gave some indication of the funding that may be available in the coming year but at this time we have had to estimate what this may mean for Devon. There remains a risk that funding may not be at this level but also the potential that it may be a bit better.”

Council leader John Hart said:

“This has been a unique period for council finances with massive extra pressures on our services caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our health and social care services for adults were under immense pressure before Covid-19 and those pressures have not gone away.

“In Devon we have some of the highest proportions of people over 65 and people over 85 in the country and they need and deserve our help and support.

“And our social care support for children and our services for children with special needs and disabilities are facing unprecedented demand.

“We have always said our priority is to protect the most vulnerable in our society and I believe this budget will help to do that. But demand for these services continues to grow at a relentless pace.”