Coun­cil laments ‘tough’ bud­get

Tax set to rise while fund­ing is cut

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - By Jo-Anne Rowney jo-anne.rowney@trin­i­tymir­

A CASH-STRAPPED coun­cil is con­sid­er­ing rais­ing tax and cut­ting fund­ing for vol­un­tary groups dur­ing bud­get dis­cus­sions.

Bucks County Coun­cil’s cabi­net met on Mon­day, Fe­bru­ary 9, to dis­cuss the au­thor­i­ties fi­nances.

The changes in­clude a 1.99 per cent in­crease in coun­cil tax.

Leader of the county coun­cil Martin Tett said: “While we were re­luc­tant to have to in­crease coun­cil tax for a sec­ond year, we know from our bud­get con­sul­ta­tion that res­i­dents backed a rea­son­able tax in­crease in or­der to main­tain our most im­por­tant ser­vices; and the 1.99 per cent in­crease will help us to do this.”

The cabi­net also heard how chil­dren’s ser­vices will in­vest £1.4m to help at­tract so­cial work­ers to the area.

The depart­ment was deemed in­ad­e­quate by Of­sted last year and was told it had to cre­ate a plan to bring it up to stan­dard.

The mea­sures in­clude a raft of pay­ments rang­ing from £1,000 for chil­dren and fam­ily work­ers train­ing to be­come qual­i­fied so­cial work­ers to £5,125 for spe­cific posts in the First Re­sponse Team.

Cabi­net mem­ber Lin Hazell said: “It’s rare that the coun­cil con­sid­ers en­hanced rates for spe­cific staff, how­ever the mar­ket place for qual­i­fied and ex­pe­ri­enced chil­dren’s so­cial care work­ers is un­der so much pres­sure that the coun­cil had to re­act.”

Other changes in­cluded chang­ing hours at re­cy­cling and waste cen­tres, less fund­ing for vol­un­tary or­gan­i­sa­tions, a health and well­be­ing con­tin­gency fund of £2.5m and a re­view of Trans­port for Bucks and Ring­way Ja­cobs re­la­tion­ship.

PCSO fund­ing will be phased out and the com­mu­ni­ties bud­get will also drop.

Cabi­net mem­ber for com­mu­nity en­gage­ment Martin Phillips said there would be a fo­cus on mak­ing li­braries the heart of the com­mu­nity but lamented the shrink­ing of the bud­get.

He added the re­main­ing li­braries could be­come a trust.

Mr Tett added: “This was a tough bud­get but we could not do much else in light of the wider eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion.”

A fi­nal de­ci­sion on the plans will be agreed by the full coun­cil to­day (Thurs­day, Fe­bru­ary 12).

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