The major services we provide in Buckinghamshire play a part in most people’s lives, whether that’s through education and learning, roads and transport, health and social care, household waste recycling or just using our country parks.
Our Strategic Plan sets out our clear aims that we want to achieve for our 536,000 residents; these are:
- safeguarding our vulnerable children and adults
- creating opportunities for everyone and building self-reliance
- ensuring Buckinghamshire is a thriving and attractive place to live and work into the future
However, in working to accomplish these we are facing some very big challenges. Our population is growing rapidly including, for example, more young children needing school places, more elderly people as people live longer, and the type of services that people need from us is changing and demand is also growing. The increase in people we need to support means overall higher costs for us. Buckinghamshire is also growing in terms of housing developments with thousands more homes set to be built across the county. This brings additional pressure on us to provide new roads, schools and other infrastructure to serve these new and growing communities.
We are amongst the increasing number of councils who now no longer receive any central government funding for day to day services, which means that despite having made savings in our budget of £102 million over the last five years which has helped us manage our increasing costs so far, we will need to make further cost savings in order to balance the books next year.
We have statutory responsibilities – things we that we must legally do, like safeguarding vulnerable children and adults. There is also a long list of other work that, although not set by Government, we still want to do to ensure all our communities are safe, prosperous and healthy. The funding for the running of our schools is not set or controlled by the Council; this goes directly to schools from government.
We are now working to set our budget for the next financial year, 2019/20 and beyond. In doing this we will need to make some difficult decisions about the level of spending across the board – making changes in how we provide some services, in places reducing what was done previously, and in other areas working smarter and becoming more commercially-minded to maintain the level of service.
The next few weeks is your opportunity to help shape what we spend and where we spend it across all of the services we provide for you. Please give us your views; your input is important and will help decide spending on the services you receive next year.
The survey is open until 14 November and you can complete the short online survey here which will take less than 10 minutes. If you need it, you can get support to complete the online survey at one of our main libraries – these are Amersham, Aylesbury, Beaconsfield, Buckingham, Chesham, Hazlemere, High Wycombe, Marlow and Princes Risborough.
We are ready and waiting to hear your views.
Councillor Martin Tett
Leader of Buckinghamshire County Council