Coun­cil tax in­crease ‘a move to self suf­fi­ciency’

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS -

COUN­CIL tax for peo­ple liv­ing in a Band D prop­erty in South Bucks is set to rise by £5.

The in­crease was agreed on Tues­day, Fe­bru­ary 23, and comes as South Bucks District Coun­cil at­tempts to move to­wards self suf­fi­ciency from cen­tral govern­ment by 2019/20.

By that time, the coun­cil will have to be fi­nan­cially in­de­pen­dent and also will be re­quired to con­trib­ute to the na­tional purse in or­der to help less af­flu­ent lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.

Coun­cil leader Ralph Bagge said: “We are do­ing much to find sav­ings in­clud­ing con­tin­u­ing with the joint work­ing pro­gramme with Chiltern District Coun­cil, which will add to the £1.5m per an­num of sav­ings al­ready re­alised, whilst main­tain­ing and im­prov­ing ser­vices to res­i­dents. We still face many chal­lenges, not least in pro­vid­ing tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion for home­less fam­i­lies. Our re­cent joint sem­i­nar with Chiltern District Coun­cil iden­ti­fied a num­ber of new po­ten­tial so­lu­tions which of­fi­cers will eval­u­ate when for­mu­lat­ing our up­dated hous­ing strat­egy.

“The bud­get for 2016/17 creates an eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment re­serve of £50k. This will en­able the coun­cil to carry out en­abling work to se­cure fund­ing for in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ments from ma­jor scheme spon­sors, in­clud­ing Western rail ac­cess to Heathrow, HS2 and Heathrow Air­port Lim­ited, all of whom are bring­ing for­ward projects with po­ten­tially harm­ful im­pact on our district, and Iver, Iver Heath and Richings Park in par­tic­u­lar.

“The Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment re­serve will also en­able this coun­cil to par­tic­i­pate in the Con­nected Coun­ties pro­gramme, which pro­vides ac­cess to su­per­fast broad­band for busi­nesses and homes that are cur­rently only able to ac­cess slow ADSL.”

South Bucks cab­i­net, sup­ported by mem­bers of the overview and scru­tiny com­mit­tee, took part in a se­ries of task group meet­ings and rig­or­ously iden­ti­fied fu­ture sav­ings which have been in­cor­po­rated into this bud­get. Work to se­cure the best mit­i­ga­tion pos­si­ble with HS2 will con­tinue, as will de­vel­op­ment on the Joint Lo­cal Plan with Chiltern. Mr Bagge said: “Given the steep re­duc­tions in govern­ment grant fund­ing over the next four years, and the con­se­quent pres­sures on our re­sources, I am very pleased to note that in 2016/17 the bud­get will de­liver a sur­plus of £607k to the coun­cil’s re­serves. Strength­en­ing our re­serves is vi­tally im­por­tant as we look to in­vest in projects that will cut costs or gen­er­ate ad­di­tional rev­enue, for ex­am­ple, pro­vid­ing much-needed ad­di­tional park­ing ca­pac­ity in our town cen­tres.”

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