COUNCIL tax will rise by four per centre after councillors backed the increase.

Worcestershire County Council agreed to the rise – with two per cent ring-fenced for funding adult social care – which means the average taxpayer in the county will pay £1,311 a year to fund the county council’s services, including £116 for adult social care.

Councillor Simon Geraghty, leader of the county council, said the budget was about three “key” things – protecting the vulnerable in society, responding to the public’s wishes – tackling congestion, improving roads and investing in public transport – and supporting a growing economy.

The council will be putting money aside as a “buffer” in case it faces any problems – particularly with the demand and cost of social care – during the next 12 months as it had done last year.

Cllr Geraghty said with holes in the budget from 2021 onwards, the council needed to put money aside in case it had to weather any storms caused by the fairer funding review – which sets out how councils are funded – and the next government spending review, especially if it did not go the council’s way.

The council currently has an overspend of £3.6 million from the last 12 months which may have to be moved to next year’s budget, Cllr Geraghty said.

Council bosses say they may still have to use £3 million of its reserves to cover the delay in money that was expected to be saved by the two-year redesign of the council.

The council’s Conservatives accepted a Labour amendment to ensure extra money would go towards youth drug misuse services, whilst approving the rest of the council’s budget for next year at a meeting at County Hall on Thursday (February 13).

Cllr John Smith, cabinet member for health, changed the wording of the amendment, which was unanimously backed, to show money would be “targeted” towards the most vulnerable groups if the extra funding was made available by the government.

Cllr Smith said he did not yet know what the council would receive from the government through the Public Health grant so the council could not spend money it did not have.

Cllr Fran Oborski said the budget was not going far enough to tackle climate change. Cllr Robin Lunn, leader of the council’s Labour group, said the budget was a “missed opportunity.”