Council tax rise set at below 2 %

DEVON County Council is to set its lowest ever council tax increase.

DEVON County Council is to set its lowest ever council tax increase.

On Wednesday its Cabinet recommended an increase of just 1.98 per cent to next week's budget-setting meeting.

The �1.2 billion budget means a Band D council taxpayer will pay �21.69 more this year to fund county services.

Some �2.92 million will be spent on the care of vulnerable children, �2.7 million more on adult and social care and, following Devon's worst winter in 30 years, an extra �2.25 million goes on highways. To save money, there has been a freeze on job recruitment at County Hall on all but essential posts, and on members' allowances.

DCC leader John Hart said he had promised in June to keep the council tax rise as low as possible and this rise was one per cent lower than last year's "and the lowest since this council came into operation in 1998.

"Our new budget recognises the difficult financial times many people in Devon have been suffering. It doesn't ask for a penny more than we need to maintain vital services like social care and schools, roads and libraries. But it also recognises that the county council is a community leader and we must do all we can to invest in Devon to ensure we emerge from the economic recession as soon as possible."

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Spending on education will be protected, with more than �378 million going direct to Devon's schools and �2.8 million extra to support the most deprived pupils and �2 million spent supporting small rural schools facing high Broadband charges.

The budget also ensures vital investment in Devon's economy to help the county battle out of recession.