HOMEOWNERS are set to face a council tax increase of 4.5 per cent in April rather than the projected 4.9 per cent.

Cabinet members recom-mended the county council budget for 2007/8 to full council at the meeting on February 5. If the budget is approved the increase will mean band D council taxpayers paying £41.99 more per year for the county council part of the tax.

The council is looking to make savings of £12.4million including £7m in efficiencies such as voluntary and compulsory redundancies.

Adult social care will also receive a small reduction in its care packages.

Council leader David Shakespeare said: "We face ever-mounting costs far above inflation on things like electricity and fuel and our officers continue to come up with innovative ways of reducing these, like safe alternatives to road lighting.

"However, some costs are inescapable and we have to find the money to pay them."

The revenue budget is £252.7million with £14.8million is targeted for investments on children's services, adult social care and transport. About £360,000 will be spent on existing staff and security checks for future staff working with children.

Almost £2.4million could go towards addressing issues in the children's service such as adoption. A total of £200,000 is likely to go towards winter gritting and flood prevention work.

Adult social care, which has received a one-star rating from the commission for social care inspection, will get £6.1million to provide more day care and improve staff levels.