COUNTY council chiefs have welcomed the £650million cash injection into adult social care revealed in Chancellor Phillip Hammond’s last Budget before Brexit.
Boosted by improved public finance forecasts, the Chancellor promised a ‘brighter future’ for taxpayers after years of austerity imposed following the financial crash in 2008.
But his claims austerity was ‘coming to an end’ were rubbished by Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell who said more welfare cuts were coming and spending was still being squeezed.
Among the highlights in the budget was extra cash for mental health services and £650million for English councils struggling to cope with rising care bills.
Worcestershire County Council spends 40 per cent of its £324million budget on adult social care and Coun Adrian Hardman, cabinet member for Adult Social Care, said: “This is a good start in addressing the need to meet increasing demands on Adult Social Care nationally.
“Although this additional, much-needed funding is welcomed, it’s only the beginning when it comes to tackling this national issue.
“We want to make sure everyone in Worcestershire lives independently for as long as is possible and the ever increasing demand on services means further funding is needed if we are to achieve this in the county.”
A further £420million is being made available immediately to local highway authorities to tackle potholes, bridge repairs and other minor works in this financial year.
Coun Ken Pollock, cabinet member for Economy and Infrastructure, said: “The money allocated from Central Government’s budget today towards improving the network and quality of roads, highways and infrastructure is very much welcomed here in Worcestershire.
“Today’s allocation will help us as we continue to build on our extensive road maintenance programme across the county and keep Worcestershire moving, all year round.
Redditch motorists will face no further pressure at the pumps as the Chancellor froze tax on petrol and diesel or the ninth year in a row while the national Living Wage for those aged 25 and over will rise from £7.83 to £8.21 an hour from April.
Beer, cider and spirit drinkers can raise a glass with a duty freeze for the next year but the cost of a bottle of wine or sparkling wine or high strength white cider will rise in line with inflation.
Smokers will be hit with a further rise in the cost of cigarettes with an average pack of 20 now expected to cost £10 and schools in England will be handed £400million, an average of £10,000 per primary school and £50,000 for secondary schools.
The limit on how much employees earn before paying income tax will also rise by April next year from £11,850 to £12,500, meaning workers will have an estimated £130 extra in their pocket next year.