Public asked to help shape ‘tough bud­get’

County coun­cil to can­vass opinion on where it should fo­cus its funds

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - by Camilla Good­man camilla.good­man@trin­i­tymir­ Twit­ter: @Camil­la_Good­man

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 bud­get un­til the clos­ing date of Thurs­day, De­cem­ber 17.

County coun­cil leader

Martin Tett

‘Grow­ing de­mands’:

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