Budget measures a real challenge
LAST Thursday, your county council finally agreed probably the toughest package of budget measures I can remember.
In a few weeks, readers will be opening their council tax demands to see that we took the decision to raise our proportion of council tax by 1.99 per cent, an average increase of 42p per week.
Of course no one likes increased charges but through this modest rise, we will be able to invest extra money to look after vulnerable children and adults, providing new school places and also continue to improve our roads – three of the major priority areas you identified in our recent public consultation on the budget.
However, the flip side is that we’ve also had to make some reductions.
These include less funding for police community safety officers, less work attracting new businesses and jobs, fewer local transport improvement schemes, reductions in the opening hours of waste sites and increasing other charges for services.
We have also lost over £7m of capital funding and had to raid our reserves to the tune of over £12m and re-prioritise other work. Getting the books to balance has been a massively difficult task.
The country still has a major challenge in reducing its deficit and we recognise that local government has to play its part in reducing its expenditure.
After previous cuts in funding, next year we will lose another 21 per cent or £10.8m of our central government grant and this is set to reduce further as the squeeze on the public purse relentlessly continues.
Combined with a growing population, people living longer and other pressures on all services, it’s a challenging outlook for the foreseeable future.
I want to assure readers that, despite the difficult situation, we are doing our very best to continue to provide key services to more than 500,000 residents across the county. To find out more about our budget for 2015 visit www.buckscc. gov.uk/budget.
Martin Tett Bucks County Council leader