People across Buckinghamshire are being asked to help the County Council make important spending decisions on next year’s budget and give their preference for the level of council tax, in the residents survey launched today (Thursday 25 September). The survey, ‘Tough decisions for tough times’, aims to get people involved in helping to decide which areas of the Council’s work spending should be focussed on. The survey is easiest to complete online at www.buckscc.gov.uk/budget, taking no more than 10 minutes. Paper copies will also available to pick up from libraries, children’s centres, adult learning centres and County Council offices in Aylesbury and Wycombe from next week. The survey will be posted to a random selection of 3,000 residents; and Buckinghamshire community groups and businesses are also being asked to take part. Martin Phillips, Cabinet Member for Community Engagement, says it’s more important than ever for residents to take part in budget decision-making: “The County Council is facing its biggest ever challenge this year, and we need our residents to help us make what will be some very difficult decisions on the areas of work where we should prioritise spending. “Last year, we took the difficult decision to raise council tax by 1.5%. We’re asking residents to tell us their views on what should happen to council tax next year, and in the survey there are options to freeze council tax or increase it again. “The financial landscape in which we’re operating has changed dramatically: in the past three years our central government funding has reduced by 40%, and we’ve reduced our spending by £55 million. This year, we will lose another £11 million of government funding, and we’re facing a shortfall of £28m in next year’s budget. We will be able to lessen that shortfall by £16m through generating income and working more efficiently. But that still leaves a substantial £12m budget gap, which means that some reduced services will be inevitable – even if there is an increase in council tax. “It’s absolutely vital that people tell us what’s important to them: where we should reduce spending, where we should continue to invest, and what should happen to council tax.” The survey is online at www.buckscc.gov.uk/budget until the closing date of 9 November.