Council outlines budget plans

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Spending plans by Central Beds Council for the next year - that include savings of £14million - have now been published

The local authority is now asking residents and others for their views on its proposals, which include freezing its share of council tax for the third year and making saving of £14million.

The council says it needs to make the savings to balance the books with cuts to funding coupled with increasing demands on council services, including a rise in the number of children and older people needing care.

Councillor Maurice Jones, deputy leader and executive member for corporate resources at Central Beds, said: “We’ve constructed a robust budget that reflects the feedback residents gave us in our budget survey this time last year.

“We got strong feedback that any savings should come from the back office to protect frontline services.

“We have been waiting for confirmation of our funding for next year from the government, we still have not received this.

“However, this has not stopped us carefully scrutinising every area of spend to look at where savings can be made.

“So far we have identified around £14million of possible efficiency savings for next year.

“We remain determined to drive out every penny of unnecessary cost. We have a proven track record of delivering savings, having reduced our operating costs by £40m since the council came into existence around four years ago.”

The draft budget outlines how the council plans to allocate £176million of available funding on a wide range of services next year in Central Bedfordshire such as refuse collection, maintaining the roads, libraries and providing social care for the disabled children, adults and for older people.

The Council has also published its draft capital programme of £81million, which outlines investments in road maintenance - an area which residents highlighted as important in a last year’s survey – as well as street lighting and new residential care facilities.

Both draft budgets will be formally discussed by the council’s Executive on 8 January.

Measures to make the £14million saving include:

- Renegotiating contracts for areas like Highways to get the best deals

- Using technology to run services more cost effectively

- Streamlining management and reducing administrative costs

- Merging services to provide a more joined up service to customers as well as saving costs

- Changing the way the council buys in care and commissioning services jointly with others to increase the council’s buying power

- Investing in preventative solutions to reduce the need for costly social care services

Other priorities for the 2013/14 budget include equalising council tax rates so that residents in the south of the area pay the same slightly lower rate as those in the north.

In effect this means a reduction in council tax for residents in the south of Central Bedfordshire for the second year.

The council’s spending plans are now open for public consultation. Residents can view the budget proposals online.

People can submit their feedback online or email comments to or send written responses to FREEPOST RSJS GBB2 SRZT, Budget Consultation, Central Bedfordshire Council, Priory House, Monks Walk, Chicksands SG17 5TQ.

The consultation is open until January 31.

Councillors will then use feedback to review the draft budget options, before full council announces the final budget in February 2013.