Central Bedfordshire Council’s (CBC) Executive has recommended a budget which the Council says will see increased investment in services and important infrastructure projects.

Council says budget will see increased investment in services and infrastructure projects

Central Bedfordshire Council‘s Executive Committee has agreed to recommend the council’s budget proposals to the Full Council for approval.

The proposals cover ways to make savings and generate income to ensure the council can maintain its services, including a 1.95% increase in Council Tax.

In setting the budget and Council Tax for the year ahead, councils are required by law to undertake public consultation. In the Budget 2020 consultation, Central Bedfordshire residents were asked for feedback on proposals to investment, efficiency proposals for £13.6million and increasing council tax.

The Executive heard that 1,539 Central Bedfordshire people completed the survey:

Council tax

  • 50% (737) of respondents supported the proposal to increase council tax by 1.95%
  • 40% (586) against

Adult Social Care Precept

  • 58% (857) of respondents supported the proposal to increase the Adult Social Care Precept by 2%
  • 33% (483 )against

Those completing the survey had the chance to make a further comment about the council tax proposals, 536 (35%) chose to do so:

  • 153 comments stated that they did not want to pay more council tax
  • 119 stated they were already paying too much, 45 of which stated that any further increase will put them in debt
  • 114 comments stated they were happy to see the social care precept increase, with three comments against it
  • 101 stated that they agreed with a council tax rise
  • 90 comments agreed with both the proposals

After considering the feedback from the budget consultation, the Executive agreed to recommend investing £142million next year on a range of building and infrastructure initiatives such as road maintenance, new school places, new care homes and new integrated health and care hubs. These provide social care and health services in one building.

Alongside this investment, the council is continuing to fund everyday services such as recycling and waste collection, public transport, leisure, libraries as well as vital services to protect and support vulnerable children and adults.

Pressure on budget from social care services

CBC says that around two-thirds of the its budget is spent on services for children and vulnerable adults. And demand for these services is rising, putting real pressure on the budget.

To help with this budget challenge the council said it is continuing its focus on efficiency with proposals for a further £13.6million of efficiencies next year. This builds on the £150million the council said it has already saved through efficiency measures since it was created in 2009.

While these efficiency measures will help meet the increased demand for services, the Council said that these aren’t enough. Therefore, it is proposing to apply the Adult Social Care Precept of a 2% increase in council tax specifically to fund care services and increase council tax by 1.95% to contribute towards funding other services.

In recommending the budget at Executive today, Cllr Richard Wenham, deputy leader and executive member for Corporate Resources, said:

“Over the past decade two of our driving ambitions have been providing value for money to local residents and good quality services.

“We’re proud of our track record in not raising council tax for a number of years, but the loss of central Government funding for our services means we can’t continue to protect and invest in services without asking residents to help pay for them through council tax.

“The consultation showed that most people were prepared to contribute more through their council tax to ensure frontline services continue and that we are also able to invest in services for the future too.”

The final budget will be considered at the Council meeting on 20 February 2020.

Applying the Adult Social Care Precept of a 2% increase in council tax works out as a 58 pence per week increase for an average (Band D) household. An increase council tax by 1.95% works out as a 56 pence per week increase for an average (Band D) household.