Central Bedfordshire Council budget: Council tax increase proposed to offset funding cuts

More people in Welwyn Hatfield are part of a workplace pension scheme

More people in Welwyn Hatfield are part of a workplace pension scheme - Credit: Archant

Fighting to balance the budget in the face of huge government cuts to grants and public pressure not to increase council tax is the theme of this year’s budget which will be presented to Central Beds Council at a meeting tonight.

Central Bedfordshire Council's 2018 budget at a glance. Picture: Doug Dawson

Central Bedfordshire Council's 2018 budget at a glance. Picture: Doug Dawson - Credit: Archant

The budget has already been approved by the council’s executive.

It seeks to bring in £6 million extra funding through a 4.5 per cent increase in council tax to partly offset a £9 million cut in government funding for the year.

Other savings will be made through cost cutting and efficiencies but the council says it is now facing the reality that the government wants it to be funded from its own income including council tax rather than government backing.

Central Beds had an option to increase its council tax by six per cent – three per cent for adult social care and three per cent for other services. It has however introduced the three per cent for adult social care but held back to 1.5 per cent for other services.

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The council says this is because during its budget consultation people felt it was acceptable to increase the tax for adult social care but not so much for other areas.

Councillor Richard Wenham, the council’s deputy leader and executive member for corporate resources, said: “We have listened to what the public have told us through the consultation on our savings plans and council tax options.

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“It’s clear that the majority of people are prepared to pay more for vital care services, but fewer people supported the additional three per cent council tax option than were opposing it.

“We need to recognise that people are facing real pressures, particularly those on fixed incomes, and we must respond to that.”

Under the proposed budget people will pay and increase of £1.22 per week on their council tax bills for an average Band D property.

The Executive has also recommended investment of more than £85 million on capital projects, including road and footway maintenance, new school buildings, leisure centres and extra care schemes.

Councillor Wenham added: “We work really hard to keep rises as low as possible but have to accept that government now expects councils to fund local services through council tax. This means the pressure to drive efficiency continues and we’re committed to do so.”

The final budget is subject to approval by full council at a meeting today at 6.30pm.

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