Hertfordshire County Council is asking residents to help it make budget choices – starting with council tax increases or cuts to services.

The county council – which provides services that include education, social care, community protection and public health – is starting to look at budget setting for 2020/21.

Officers have highlighted options to increase council tax by two per cent – as well as an additional two per cent increase for social care.

And they are asking residents to tell them their views – as well identifying areas where they think spending could be cut.

It’s not the first time the county council has launched the ‘your priorities’ survey.

Last year more than 2,000 responses were received  – with most people (67 per cent) putting council tax increases above reductions in services.

And now residents have until December 15 to let the county council know what they think would be best this time.

According to the consultation document the county council continues “to face significant financial constraints” – despite making savings of almost £334 million from its annual budget since 2010.

It says that in the spring the county council identified a need to make further savings of £90 million a year by 2023.

The document says that raising council tax by two per cent would reduce the need for the council to cut spending on key services.

And it also reveals the council is also considering whether to increase council tax by a further two per cent for social care, including support for adults with physical and mental disabilities, carers and older people.

“If we are unable to increase council tax and include the additional Social Care Precept, as indicated above, the funding gap for next year would rise to £31 million,” says the consultation document.

“This would result in the council having to significantly reduce its level of spending, preventing the council from maintaining its current level of service delivery.”

The survey starts by asking whether respondents support a council tax increase, or not – and whether they support the further increase to support adult care services.

It then asks whether they believe budgets should be maintained or reduced in a number of areas.

These areas are: support for older people and adults with physical disabilities, mental health support needs and learning disabilities; child protection and care for vulnerable children ;  council support services; early years and education support; highways and transportation; disposing of our waste; community protection; libraries and other community services and environment and planning.

This year (2019/20) the county council had a gross revenue budget of £975 million.

It allocated £414 million to adult care, £202 million to children’s services, £124 million to environment and infrastructure (including highways, transport and waste), £113 million to resources (including libraries), £46 million to public health, £40 million to community protection (including the fire service and trading standards) and £36 million to ‘central items’.

The council’s ‘your priorities’ survey can be found at www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/consultations It will be available on the website until December 15.