Budget consultation – ‘The toughest decisions yet’, says the Council
People across Buckinghamshire are being asked to help the County Council make important spending decisions on next year’s budget, in a survey launched today (Thursday 26 November). The survey, which will run online until 17 December, aims to get people involved in helping to decide which areas of the Council’s work spending should be focused on. The short, easy to complete survey is available at www.buckscc.gov.uk/budget. People who don’t have access to the internet or a computer can take part at any of the county’s libraries, where staff will help people to complete the survey. Computers with internet and wi-fi access are available in all libraries where people can access the consultation for free. Leader of the Council, Martin Tett, said: “This really is the toughest budget yet. People will know that we’ve put in place a spending freeze until the end of this financial year, which will help us to manage the potential overspend that we have identified. But next year, given the growing demands on us, particularly in looking after vulnerable children and the elderly and the Living Wage requirements, we still need to save another £31 million to cope. “We were originally proposing to increase council tax by 1.99%, the maximum the Government normally allows. However, in yesterday’s Spending Review and Autumn Statement, the Chancellor, George Osborne, recognised the extra pressures facing those councils like Buckinghamshire with social care responsibilities. He told councils that they can raise up to 2% extra from council tax to spend solely on adult social care, which will also help relieve pressure on the NHS. We are planning to accept the Government’s proposal and are therefore now suggesting a 3.99% rise for next year. “I realise that the Government’s announcement means that everyone pays a bit more; however, in previous budget consultations, our residents have indicated that they would support a higher increase if it meant more local services being protected. This extra money will go some way to meeting what residents have told us.” Martin Phillips, Cabinet Member for Community Engagement, says it’s absolutely vital that people take part in the survey: “This year, more than any other year, decision-making for the budget will be very, very challenging. We will need to take some extremely difficult decisions on where we continue to fund services and where we will have to stop doing things. “This process affects everyone in the county and I urge you to please let us have your views: tell us what’s important to you, where we should reduce spending, where we should continue to invest, and what you think of our council tax proposals.” The survey is online at www.buckscc.gov.uk/budget until the closing date of Thursday 17 December.