THE public can voice their views on Shropshire Council's plans to save£18.5m in the coming financial year.

Council chiefs are seeking the views of residents and organisations on its budget for 2019/20.

The proposals include a 2.99 per cent council tax increase, with an extra once per cent rise specifically for social care.

The council cites "limited funding" and increasing cost of providing services such as social care until 2020/21 as the reason for its budget proposals.

Councillor Peter Nutting, Shropshire Council’s leader, said: “As a result of substantial government funding reductions, we need to significantly reduce our budget and make unprecedented changes to our services.

“In 2019/20 Shropshire Council is facing a budget shortfall of around £26.7m. Putting it simply, our income has fallen due to government cuts, whilst demand for our vital services that protect some of our most vulnerable has increased.

“We’ve identified many solutions for next year, including investing in capital schemes which generate a return on investment. Also, it’s widely understood that investing in such schemes supports economic, housing and population growth and offers a better return on investment than just keeping money in a bank."

The council says it has delivered savings of over £48million in the last three years and that, while this has enabled balanced budgets each year, further work is needed to deliver more savings as government grants continue to reduce.

The main pressure on council budgets is in the revenue budget (money it can use to deliver day-to-day services), and so the authority is using its capital budget (money it can only use to invest) to develop schemes to deliver additional income or reduced costs.

These include the purchase of the Shrewsbury shopping centres, the council’s Digital Transformation Programme, and the controversial refurbishment of Shirehall.

This should relieve the pressure on the revenue budget, meaning less savings needed on the day-to-day running of essential services.

In terms of funding, the main area that the council has control over is setting the council tax level for the next year.

For 2019/20, the council is proposing a 2.99 per cent increase to council tax in addition to a one per cent increase that is used specifically for social care. This is the maximum that the council can raise through council tax in this year and, if approved, it will bring in £5.926 million to help the council to deliver important services that the council is required to provide.

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The results of the consultation will be presented to full council and help inform councillors when they meet to set the budget for 2019/20 on Thursday, February 28.

An analysis of the proposals will follow shortly.