The council tax budget for Central Bedfordshire was approved last night (Thursday).
It marks the end of an extensive period of budget planning and consultation with local people and organisations.
Local Council Tax payers will now be asked to pay a smaller increase in council tax than was originally proposed, in response to public feedback on the draft spending plans.
Cllr Richard Wenham, the Executive Member for Corporate Resources, said: “In line with the change in Government policy for the funding of Adult Social Care, we consulted the public on a proposal to apply a 3% levy on Council Tax bills, specifically to fund these vital services for our older and vulnerable residents.
“55% of respondents supported this and there was also a majority of support for an additional increase of 1.75%, which was proposed for the funding of other Council services.
“However, we were acutely aware of some of the feedback, particularly from those on fixed and lower incomes, about the implications of the proposals. So, we decided to reduce the general council tax increase as much as we could – and set it at 1.5%”
Taken together, the implications of the Adult Social Care precept and the 1.5% increase in council tax, will result in a total weekly increase of £1.19 for an average household (Band D).
The budget plans also include continuing the Council’s efficiency drive which is set to bring savings of more than £15m. This will be achieved through a range of measures including reviewing contracts and seeking better deals from suppliers in areas such as facilities management; reducing the use of agency workers; giving customers the option to make their own contribution to “top up” the service they receive; generating income by trading council services; and withdrawing some services where the need for them is not apparent.
Councillor Wenham added: “Like every authority, we are facing real challenges in balancing the pressures of increasing demands for our services with less money from Westminster. This means we have no choice but to raise more money through council tax in order to avoid dramatic cuts to our services.
“What I would stress is that efficiency and value for money continue to be a top priority for us. So whilst we will be investing in front line services and projects, we will also be making savings of £15million which is on top of the £104million we have already saved since 2009.”
Households across Central Bedfordshire will receive their Council Tax bills during the week commencing Monday 13th March.