Budget Consultation 2018/19
There’s no doubt about it, 2017 has been a challenging year so far. Developments at both a national and local level have meant huge changes in how we do things. With increased budget pressures from central government, coupled with the increasing needs of our ageing population, the rising number of school places required and growing social care costs, we are facing some really tough choices. The gap between what we want to achieve and the level of support and services we can realistically offer is going to be a difficult one to manage without changes and reductions to your services, which is always the last thing that we want to do.
We have responsibilities that we must carry out, statutory work and services to undertake - for example, the care of vulnerable children and adults, and maintaining our roads and pavements. This sits alongside other work that, although not a legal requirement, we still want to accomplish to ensure Buckinghamshire remains a safe, prosperous and healthy community. For example, running our country parks, delivering and supporting youth services and helping businesses to grow and provide employment. As a council we deliver health and social care, education, transport and environment services to over 530,000 residents and more than 33,000 businesses. To some extent or other, these amenities touch you all in some way.
We want Buckinghamshire to continue to be a great place to live and work. However, budget pressures have meant we need to change how we provide some services, sometimes reducing what was done previously, and in other places working smarter and becoming more commercial. It’s a balancing act and we work hard every day in these increasingly testing times.
It’s challenging. It’s not easy and if we had more funds we would be spending differently. The fact of the matter is that with an ever-growing and ageing population, pressures on our budget increase, and really hard choices have to be made now to secure the future of essential services for all.
Next year’s budget for Buckinghamshire is going to be shaped in the coming weeks. We need to know where you value the spend most, so that we can consider your views when the Council's Cabinet considers and decides on a draft budget for next year. You can see our current budget spend here.
You can also read more about our draft plan for getting the best value from next year’s budget below. These plans are not set in stone, and you should never underestimate how much we need your input into setting our budget. It’s your money and we want to give you the very best value that we can.
Please take a few minutes to complete our short survey so we can understand your priorities and which services matter most to you. I look forward to hearing your feedback.
Cabinet Member for Community Engagement and Public Health
In our Budget Consultation for 2018-19 we are asking you to tell us which of our services matter most to you.
- Protecting vulnerable children - includes fostering, adoption, helping families who experience difficulties, children with disabilities and special educational needs
- Supporting vulnerable adults and older people - includes home care services, day care centres and residential/nursing care for older people
- Education - includes supporting schools to improve educational results
- Roads - includes road maintenance and road safety
- Pavements - includes street lighting and pavement maintenance
- Leisure and culture - includes libraries, museums and country parks
- Supporting business - includes high speed broadband, business growth and job creation
- Community safety and consumer protection - includes working to reduce crime and the exploitation of vulnerable people, including scams
- Public Health - includes health visitors, school nurses and drug and alcohol treatment
- Community support services - includes preventative support provided by voluntary organisations, NHS and social care
- Public transport - includes buses, trains, cycleways and community transport
- Environmental protection - includes prosecution of fly-tipping and providing household recycling centres
- Supporting housing growth - includes providing infrastructure such as roads and schools
- Improving skills and employment opportunities - includes adult learning courses
- Helping people choose their own care services - by providing personal budgets so people can choose to buy care services they feel best meet their needs
The Council's plan for how it can budget to live within its means
To ensure we are able to provide the services that we are required to by law, as well as those that are most important to people, we are proposing to focus our spending on some priority areas. To help fund these we will need to reduce spending in other areas, work differently and generate income.
Priorities to protect
There are some areas where we believe we need to maintain spending in order to provide statutory and essential services.
- Invest in services to safeguard and care for vulnerable children and adults e.g. through adults and children’s social care services
- Provide infrastructure to support population and housing growth in Buckinghamshire e.g. ensuring there are enough places for children in schools, providing road and rail network improvements
- Improve ‘Early Help’ support for children and families who are experiencing difficulties, to prevent small problems becoming bigger
- Improve support for children with disabilities (including education, health and care plans),
- Improve the condition of existing roads through a highway maintenance scheme that focuses on the long-term maintenance of roads
- Invest in new digital technologies e.g. to improve customer service, to help people apply for services online and to enquire as to progress with receiving their services
Areas to target reductions
There are some areas where we believe we need to reduce our spending in order to protect investment in priority services.
- Reduce the level of some services that we aren’t required to provide e.g. opening times
- Reduce the frequency of some services that we aren’t required to provide, e.g. grass cutting on highways, so other services can be maintained
- Provide street lighting on footpaths during times they are most used, whilst reducing lighting during lower use periods
- Reduce some household waste recycling centre services so that other services can continue to be provided
Doing things differently
There are some different ways of working that we want to continue and develop so we can reduce costs and also generate income to fund services
- Selling products and services so we can generate income e.g. selling more materials from household recycling centres; selling services that we have specialist skills in to other public sector organisations e.g. human resources
- Working in partnership with other public sector organisations to better meet people’s needs and move duplicate costs e.g. to provide some healthcare services with the NHS
- Making commercial investments that generate profit to fund other services e.g. purchasing and then leasing business premises
- Charging for some non-statutory services that we are not legally required to provide
- Extending the provision of personal budgets so people with care needs can choose to buy the services they feel best meet their needs e.g. transport and day care services
- Recruiting more foster carers to look after vulnerable children in a home setting, taking them out of care homes
- Delivering library services in modern and more cost effective ways e.g. through digital media and online lending services
- Offering support services to schools for improving educational attainment differently, now that they manage their own budgets