Public asked to help shape ‘tough budget’
County council to canvass opinion on where it should focus its funds
We are planning to accept the government's proposal and are therefore now suggesting a 3.99 per cent rise for next year. I realise the announcement means that everyone pays a bit more. – County Council leader Martin Tett
PEOPLE across Bucks are being asked to help the County Council make important spending decisions on next year’s budget by taking part in a survey.
The survey, which launched on Thursday, November 26 and will run online until Thursday, December 17, aims to get people involved in helping to decide on which areas of the council spending should be focused.
The council is proposing to increase council tax by 3.99 per cent next year to help it make savings.
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 manage the potential overspend that we have identified. But next year, given the growing demands onus, particularly in looking after vulnerable children and the elderly and the Living Wage requirements, we still need to save another £31million to cope.
“We were originally proposing to increase council tax by 1.99 per cent, the maximum the government normally allows. However, in last week’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 two per cent 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 per cent rise for next year. I realise the 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.”
Cabinet member for community engagement Martin Phillips says it is absolutely vital that people take part in the survey:
He said: “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.”
People who do not 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.
The survey is online at www.buckscc.gov.uk/ budget until the closing date of Thursday, December 17.
County council leader