RESIDENTS in County Durham are facing another hike in council tax amid further multi-million cuts to services.

Council tax will rise by a further 2.99 per cent – the maximum allowed without triggering a local referendum – while the adult care precept will increase by two per cent.

The increase will raise an extra £9.9m for Durham County Council services and means people living in band D properties pay an additional £71 a year.

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The council is making further cuts of £15.3m this year and has outlined 46 ways of reducing costs in its budget for the coming year.

Council leader Cllr Simon Henig said: “The financial outlook for the council and the whole of local government remains extremely challenging and unless something changes we still have significant savings to make.

“While we have to continue to reduce our revenue expenditure because of government funding cuts, in this budget we are investing in our children and adult social care services, reflecting residents’ priorities.”

The budget includes £3.9m for looked-after children, £1m to support guardianship arrangements and £375,000 of investment in the council’s social work academy..

However, cuts of £2.7m will also be made to the children and young people’s budget, coming from a review of school transport, modifying services for children who are visually and hearing impaired and through staffing restructures.

Cuts of £5.6m will also be made to adult services, through outsourcing services, changes to charging policies and reviewing community based services.

There will also be reductions to general maintenance and weekend working by the clean and green team, which is responsible for tidying up neighbourhoods, and to the budget for dealing with loose horses.

The council is also hoping to increase its income through its burial and cremation charges, pest control, garden waste scheme and fixed penalty notices.

By the end of March, the local authority will have slashed its budget by £209m.

A further 155 jobs will be lost from the council, taking the total to 2,921 since 2011.

It has also announced £117m for capital project over the next four years, including £46m for a new council headquarters in Durham city centre, £7.8m for a history centre in Durham, £0.75m for a new Horden Rail Station, £2.1m for Escombe Primary, in Bishop Auckland and £18.4m for highways maintenance.

Cllr Alan Napier, deputy leader, said: “We continue our work to protect frontline services, specifically those prioritised by the public, and the most vulnerable in our county but this is becoming increasingly difficult as financial pressures increase.

“It is also imperative that we continue to invest in our capital infrastructure as it is our key route to boosting the local economy, retaining existing jobs and supporting the creation of new jobs.”

The council held a consultation into its budget proposals last year. A total of 1,175 people responded, with 78 per cent saying the council’s approach was “reasonable”.