LAST Thursday (November 23) at the Cumbria County Council Cabinet meeting we launched the budget proposal that in order to pay for the services that the county council provides the amount that is collected in Council Tax is increased by a total of 3.99 per cent.

This comprises 1.99 per cent for the county councils share of your council tax, plus the Government’s separate amount for Adult Social Care of 2 per cent. Your views are sought on this and I encourage you to go online and have your say at:

If you don’t have access to the internet, then please go into one of our libraries to use for free one of the computers that we have available for public use.

I would like to share some of the words that I said at the meeting.

“We know how much the services we provide are valued and we will continue to do all we can to deliver them. Most people do not see or use many of our services, but if you are a vulnerable young person; one of our increasing number of frail elderly residents; someone with physical or learning difficulties; user of a free bus pass; or are assisted by our Fire and Rescue Service, then you will understand.

"For all of us, many services we provide are most noticeable when they are not provided - household waste disposal just happens; highway repairs are more noticed when they don’t happen than when they do; our library offer is just there, whether it’s a book you want to use or to learn about accessing the digital experience of the world wide web.

"Sometimes there is a belief that we provide services even when we don’t. Some still think that we control what happens in schools, even those so-called 'Free Schools' and Academies. Perhaps that’s partly due to our having the duty to ensure that there are sufficient numbers of school places, and of course if something goes wrong we all know who is expected to pick up the pieces.

"All of this, and much more, at a time when funding from Central Government is reducing. Uncertainty abounds as to how any substitution for the Government's Revenue Support Grant will work or at what amount. All we know is that by 2020 we will have to be self-financing.

"Back in March we joined the rest of local Government in pointing out to central Government the collective adult social care black hole of £2.3bn each year. More funding was made available, but only a total of £2bn over a three-year period. In the recent Chancellor of the Exchequer's Budget statement there was nothing for local government and for us that puts even more pressure on our local services and the need for local taxpayers to help fund our services now and in the future.

"What is certain is that these continue to be tough times, with years of austerity seemingly without end.

"This is why it is important for people to have their say. I’d like to encourage you all to respond to the consultation and give us your views by going to .”

Cllr Ian Stewart

Cabinet Member for Finance, Cumbria County Council

Adam Lewis

Communications Media Officer