A COUNCIL leader has called for the Government to properly fund adult social care after declining to make the maximum increase to tax.

Durham County Council voted to increase council tax by 1.99 per cent and adult social care by two per cent, instead of the maximum three per cent.

Council leader councillor Simon Henig said: “It’s high time they funded adult social care properly. Even the maximum three per cent set by the majority of councils would not solve the growing national crisis.”

He added: “It needs to be funded though their decisions centrally and not through just passing the buck to councils to take the blame locally for raising council tax.”

He added it was “flawed” as a one per cent rise in council tax in County Durham raises around £1m, compared to £7m elsewhere.

The council voted to approve its budget of £387.6m for the coming year, including required savings of £36m and cuts totalling £23.4m.

It is using £12.6m from its reserve to plug the gap.

But opposition councillors said the authority should use more reserves to reduce cuts to front line services.

The Liberal Democrats proposed using reserves to spend £500,000 over two years on youth work projects to bridge the gap caused by the end of universal youth provisions, £500,000 over two years to allow communities to introduce 20mph areas and £10m on extra road and footpath repairs.

A second amendment by Lib Dem Cllr Owen Temple called for the council tax increase of 1.99 per cent to be scrapped, with money from reserves to plug the gap.

He said: “I personally can’t vote for an increase in council tax for people in this county when the council has an excess reserve.”

Cllr Henig described the proposal as “reckless in the extreme”.

The Conservatives proposed stopping the publication of County Durham News, buying a new tanker to help with roadside gully cleaning and introducing a £1m cap on what the council spends on agency staff working in children’s services.

Independent councillor John Shuttleworth proposed amendments to cut County Durham News and reduce spending in the communications department to give extra funding to village halls and only increase council tax by 0.99 per cent.

All amendments were defeated.

The total increase in council tax, including charges paid to police and fire services, will be 3.67 per cent and means a Band D tax payer will pay £1,709.93 a year, excluding any parish or town council taxes.