Proposed Budget plans 'keep most major plates spinning' says Council Leader
Budget proposals which include more investment in children's and adult social care, roads and creating new school places passed their first milestone today (Monday, December 10) as Cabinet approved the Council's draft financial plan for the next four years.
The plan, which delivers a balanced budget, includes a proposed council tax rise of 2.99% for residents in 2019.
Next year's revenue budget - the pot that pays for regular day-to-day services - of £348.5 million will include £10.7 million more allocated for protecting vulnerable children and £3.7 million more for services to support vulnerable adults and older people.
And funding from the Council's draft capital programme will see investment in improving roads set at £15 million per year for the next four years. The Cabinet also proposed £1 million more specifically for local 'plane and patch' work to tackle urgent road repairs after the winter period. This is in addition to £3 million in the current financial year.
Some £110.6 million will also be invested in new primary and secondary school places over the next four years together with £16.7 million for maintaining school buildings.
With Buckinghamshire losing all of its grant support for day-to-day services from Government last year, over 85% of all services are now funded by local council tax, with the remaining cash coming from business rates, new homes bonus and other income.
During the recent public consultation on the budget proposals, over 1,700 residents and organisations responded. Six in ten said they agreed with the Council’s plan for living within its means with just one in ten disagreeing.
Leader of the Council, Martin Tett said it was a budget that was both affordable and realistic given the continuing financial pressures on the public sector.
"Through careful financial planning we've been able to focus on maintaining key services, protecting the most vulnerable and delivering on residents' key priorities such as the condition of our roads. It's a budget that keeps most of our major plates spinning," he said.
"I'm pleased that our plan supports £4 million extra for local plane and patch repairs to our roads after the winter. Come the Spring as the weather improves, we'll be able to respond much more quickly to address the inevitable damage the rain, frost and potentially snow will do to our roads.
"And credit to the Government too for listening to local councils and providing some much needed extra funding set out in the recent Autumn budget. That said, we are only in this position because of the tough decisions we have taken in the past years and continue to have to make going forward."
Martin added: "I also want this to make sure we deliver the absolute maximum value from each pound we spend. This of course means listening to the views of local people, businesses and partner organisations. Although difficult decisions are inevitable. it's also about the Council making smart investments and using innovation and new techniques to improve services."
The four-year plan will now be considered in detail by the Council's Finance, Performance and Resources Select Committee in the New Year and further comments can still be made by the public.
Final decisions will be made by the full Council at its meeting on February 21. Although the County Council's budget is set on a four-year rolling programme, from 2020 the budgets of all five Buckinghamshire Councils will be amalgamated and future decisions made by the new single unitary council.