Proposed Budget plans ‘keep most major plates spinning’ says Council Leader

Budget proposals which includemore investment in children’s and adult social care, roads and creating new school placespassed theirfirst milestone today(Monday, December 10) asCabinet approved the Council’s draftfinancial 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 allocatedforprotecting 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 forthe next four years.The Cabinet also proposed £1million more specificallyfor 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 investedin new primary and secondary school places over the next four years together with £16.7 million for maintaining school buildings.

WithBuckinghamshire losing all of itsgrant support for day-to-day servicesfrom Government last year, over 85% of all services are now funded by local council tax, with the remaining cashcoming from business rates, new homes bonus and otherincome.

During the recent public consultation on the budget proposals, over 1,700 residents and organisationsresponded.Six in ten said theyagreed with the Council’s plan for living within its means with justone in tendisagreeing.

Leader of the Council, Martin Tett said it was a budget that was both affordable andrealistic given the continuing financial pressures on the public sector.

“Through careful financial planning we’ve been able tofocus onmaintaining key services, protecting the most vulnerableanddelivering on residents’ key priorities such as the condition of our roads. It’s a budget that keeps most of our majorplates spinning,” he said.

“I’mpleased that our plan supports£4 million extra for localplane and patch repairs to our roads after the winter. Come the Springas the weather improves, we’ll be able to respond much more quickly toaddress the inevitable damage the rain, frost and potentially snowwilldo to our roads.

“And credit to the Government toofor listening to local councils and providing some much needed extrafundingset out inthe recent Autumnbudget. That said, we are only in this position because of thetough decisions we have taken in the past years and continue to have to make going forward.”

Martin added: “I also want this to make surewe deliver the absolute maximum value from each pound we spend. This of course means listening to the views oflocal people, businesses and partner organisations. Althoughdifficultdecisions are inevitable. it’s also aboutthe Council making smart investments andusing 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. Althoughthe County Council’s budgetis set on a four-year rolling programme, from 2020 the budgets of allfive Buckinghamshire Councils will be amalgamated and future decisions made by the new single unitary council.