A DOUBLE digit increase in cash for children and more money for adult care, climate change and transport are the highlights of Devon County Council's (DCC) target budget for 2024/25.

New figures published on January 2 show a proposed 10.4 per cent increase in the revenue budget for children’s services with a six per cent rise in adult services and 4.7 per cent extra for climate change, environment and transport.

Reductions in other departmental spending means an overall rise of 6.3 per cent in our budget for next year with a total spend of over £743 million.

DCC's Cabinet will discuss the details on Wednesday, January 10, with the full council set to debate the budget in February.

In a new report, DCC's director of finance, Angie Sinclair, says: 'Local authorities across the country continue to face financial challenges due to high inflation and interest rates as well as demands on local service provision.'

She says the authority’s senior leaders have worked extensively with service leads and finance officers to forecast costs and develop plans to manage them within affordable financial targets.

Officers have also worked closely with the Cabinet to secure best value across Devon’s operations and ensure continuing financial sustainability.

She continues: 'Inflationary pressures continue to be felt across the economy, local government and our partners. Social care is particularly impacted by increases to the national living wage.'

The 9.8 per cent increase in the national living wage announced by the Government last year mean an additional £25.7 million has had to be added to the target budget to cover the cost, councillors will hear.

Angie Sinclair will tell them: 'Despite the rate of inflation falling in recent months, the impact of inflation on the cost of living, business and service delivery costs places sustained financial pressures nationally and this contributes to the ongoing impact in terms of price and demand pressures on the authority’s budget.

'This is reflected in the proposed target budgets with investment of £48.5 million to cover inflation and the national living wage plus £44.9 million to cover demand and other spending pressures and priorities.

'To enable the authority to set a balanced budget, savings, alternative funding and additional income of £49.6 million have been identified. Overall there is additional funding of £43.8 million or 6.3% for services next year.

'It is not planned to support the proposed budget targets by using general reserve balances.

'This reflects a strategy of "living within our means" and, as such, to set service budgets that are affordable within anticipated income and funding totals for next year.

'Further detail on the proposed budget will be shared with scrutiny committees this month and will be subject to further consultation with business representatives, the voluntary and community sector and staff trade unions.'