People would rather pay more council tax than lose services, a survey by Hertfordshire County Council suggests.

The county council launched the survey in October as part of its annual budget-setting process.

It asked residents if they would support a two per cent increase in council tax to maintain local services.

A second question asked residents if they would support a further two per cent increase to specifically support adult care services.

In both cases, 60 per cent of the 5,784 people who responded said they would.

The results were reported to a meeting of the cabinet by executive member for resources and performance Cllr Ralph Sangster on Monday (January 20).

“For the first time this year we have asked the questions specifically about the potential for increases in council tax,” said Cllr Sangster.

“We asked two questions – one in relation to the existing ability to raise council tax by 1.99 per cent and then the further flexibility that we were predicting, which was to raise by a further two per cent for adult social care precept.

“I think it’s fair to say throughout the engagement there was a strong support for the raising of these two precepts  – 60 per cent in favour and 40 per cent against.”

Cllr Sangster said comments from the survey indicated that previous cuts had gone as far as many were prepared to accept.

And he said the intention now was to see services consolidated and – in some respects – improved, with the finances available.

As part of the survey residents were also asked to identify areas in which they thought spending should be reduced.

Almost three-quarters – 74.65 per cent – said spending should be reduced for council support services.

But most people thought spending should be maintained in all other areas – with just 7.35 per cent saying it should be taken away from support for older people, people with disability or learning disabilities.

Cllr Sangster said the views had been helpful in enabling them to understand the community’s views on the budget and had been taken in to consideration.

Welcoming the findings of the survey, council leader Cllr David Williams said: “So, a valuable exercise that has underscored the key commitment that the majority of residents are prepared to see our services protected and recognise that that does come at the cost of increasing council tax and indeed the addition of the social care precept.”

Cllr Williams said it was particularly pleasing that the response rate to the survey had increased.

Last year there were around 2000 responses. This year there were said to be almost three times as many.