DORSET County Council has approved its budget for the year ahead, and residents can expect a hike in their council tax.

Councillors and finance chiefs came together to put a spotlight on the county council’s budget and decide the share of council tax for the next financial year.

At the meeting of the full council, members agreed to increase council tax by 5.99 per cent to help deal with inflation and bridge the funding gap in adult social care.

They agreed to raise council tax by 2.99 per cent (the maximum without triggering a local referendum), plus a further 3 per cent to fund adult social care – which is in line with the Government’s 6 per cent levy (over a total three-year period).

The increase will cost the average band D household an extra £79.47 a year or 22p a day, and is expected to raise just over £2m for the council over the next two years.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Dorset, Cllr Nick Ireland said: “We are now in a position where this council’s leadership raises council tax by the maximum it can; 5 per cent last year and 6 per cent this year, whilst the level of increase is obfuscated by the Adult Social Care Precept, 3 per cent last year and 3 per cent next year.”

The 3 per cent social care precept will raise an additional £6.6m this year for the council, which it promises to invest in adult social care.

Leader of Dorset County Council Rebecca Knox said that around two thirds of the budget would go towards children’s and adult social care – including offering help early on, providing services in places where people go and helping people to stay independent.

She said: “We must make the most of every pound to provide more personalised and community-based services that focus on prevention, early help and empowering people to live independently.

“Working with our partners, we all have a collective responsibility to make the most of every pound that Dorset has. We all face financial constraints, but this should not stop us listening to residents and making sure we are delivering services that make a positive difference to people’s lives.”

Cllr Tony Ferrari, Cabinet member for community and resources, said: “Although we are facing increasing demand for both children’s and adult’s social care, there’s also a lot of investment being made across Dorset – including our multi-million school improvement programme to deliver more school places, and recruiting more children’s social workers and foster carers to improve the lives of our most vulnerable children.”

Cllr Ireland said the 'financial blight on Dorset' will continue for another year.

He added:"All our districts and boroughs are in the top 11 of council tax levied across the entire country."

"This budget offers nothing for the population of this county and promises only one thing, yet more cuts in services and provisions.

"An octopus has no backbone and eight arms; by a coincidence that is the same number of MPs we have in Dorset."

Alongside its investment programme, the council has set a target of saving of around £18.3M in 2018/19.