COUNCIL tax bills look set for a hike after Cornwall Council’s cabinet has recommended its budget plans for this year.

The 4.99% increase in rates for residents includes a general 1.99% increase along with an extra 3% which will go directly to funding adult social care services.

Local authorities have been given permission to add up to 3% for adult social care by the Government while the 1.99% rise is the highest councils can increase council tax bills without holding a referendum.

The increase means that Cornwall Council’s share of the council tax for a Band D property would be £1,667.26. The final bill for a Band D property will also include precepts for Devon and Cornwall Police and town or parish councils.

Adam Paynter, deputy leader of the council, said that the council would continue to call on the government to fund a “long term, sustainable” solution to funding adult social care.

The Liberal Democrat councillor said that it was with a “heavy heart” that the council had proposed the 3% precept but he said that without it the council would not be able to continue to provide services at the current levels.

He said: “We were clearly told by the minister that local people have to share the pain of providing care for vulnerable people.”

And he added: “We have written to the Government urging them to bring forward a long term, sustainable funding package for adult social care.

“Not making use of the Government adult social care precept is not an option but it is something we do with a very heavy heart.”

Cllr Paynter highlighted that additional precepts had been included on council tax bills to pay for adult social care every year since 2016.

He said that the “majority of the burden falls on local authorities and local council tax payers” and he recognised that “people are concerned about increasing council tax at a time when many people are struggling financially”.

To assist the council is proposing to make an extra £3m available to help low income households claiming council tax support.

Cllr Paynter said that it had been “an extraordinary year” in which to develop a budget due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on both the council’s own finances and the wider impact on the Cornish economy.

He highlighted that it was recently reported to a Parliamentary committee that 12 local councils in England were currently seeking support from the Government as they face the risk of bankruptcy.

Cllr Paynter said: “Fortunately Cornwall Council is not one of those councils because of careful financial planning by the Lib Dem/Independent administration over the last four years.”

The deputy leader said that the council will have to reduce spending by £60m over the next four years of its medium term financial plan in order to be able to deliver balanced budgets.

He highlighted that the council’s capital spending plan was now at £1.3billion which includes £239m for new homes for local people.

Another £180m is set aside for connecting Cornwall both digitally with superfast broadband and physically with new footpaths and cycleways.

Cllr Paynter said the capital programme also includes £49m to repair school buildings and build new ones and £18m towards renewable energy projects and climate change action plan schemes including the Forest for Cornwall.

Labour councillor Jayne Kirkham criticised the government for continuing to pass the cost of adult social care onto council taxpayers.

She said: “Three-per-cent is a huge increase for people in Cornwall at this time.”

And she added: “It is outrageous that they (the government) have put this on us again when they said they wouldn’t.

“They have passed the buck but not the bucks, it has happened yet again.”

The cabinet agreed unanimously to recommend the budget to full council.

A final decision will be made on the budget at the full council meeting on February 23.