Staffing cuts and council tax freeze in plans for new budget

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Staffing cuts and a freeze on council tax are on the list of proposals as Bedford Borough Council approved recommendations for its new budget.

The council met last night (Wednesday) when members approved the plans to set the budget for the coming financial year.

The budget aimed to freeze council tax rates while maintaining services.

As the council proposed increased spending in some areas, it also outlined staffing cuts and reductions to services such as libraries as it seeks to save £13.8million.

Money-saving options include a review of staffing structures and saving £250,000 a year in cultural services by axing library jobs, getting the ‘community’ involved in running remote libraries and spending less on new books.

But the council described its draft budget as putting ‘people first, saving valuable services, freezing council tax and protecting the most vulnerable’.

Portfolio holder for finance Councilllor Michael Headley said: “We are continuing to protect frontline services in the face of extraordinary funding pressures.

“There has been no closures of libraries, leisure centres, children’s centres and we have maintained weekly bin collections, school crossing patrols and a strong rural bus network. We are also ensuring we can continue to invest and improve the borough, including major investment in new school buildings as well as key infrastructure such as the missing link of the Bedford Western Bypass.”

The largest saving is within the workforce (£2.8million), which includes a reduced senior management structure.  There is also a £2m saving achieved by pushing down inflationary costs in areas.

Among the cuts, the budget does recommend an increased spending in children’s social care of around £5.3 million, and investment in the town centre and road projects.

Te final budget plan will be decided by the Full Council on February 5.