The budget challenge facing Central Bedfordshire Council
In the next financial year (from April 2018 to March 2019) Central Bedfordshire Council is planning to spend around £190 million on public services across our area.
These include the high profile services that are available for everyone, such as recycling and refuse collection, maintenance of roads and pavements, libraries and leisure.
We will also be investing in specialist and equally vital services that protect vulnerable adults and children, care for those with special needs and offer help for people to live independently for as long as possible.
These services, and the others you expect from your local council, cost a lot of money. However, demand for some of our services is rising whilst our funding from central government is reducing.
The graphic below shows the council's planned budget for 2017/2018.
Currently over half of our budget is spent on services for children and vulnerable adults. And demand for these services, in particular, is increasing.
In the last 10 years, we’ve seen a 46% increase in the number of people over the age of 85. This means that more people need social care services for longer and they tend to have more complex needs. The increase in the national minimum wage also means that providing this vital care costs us more too.
In the last three years, the number of people who need temporary accommodation, because they are homeless, has trebled.
In the last five years, we’ve seen a 45% increase in the number of children who need to be looked after.
The government is changing how council services are funded.
In 2009/10 we received £49 million from central government to help fund our services. Since then this funding has reduced every year. Next year we will receive less than £5 million and by 2019/20 this funding will disappear altogether. Instead, central government expects councils to raise council tax to fund local services.
An Adult Social Care Levy (known as a precept) has been introduced by the government, which requires all local people to pay towards the costs of care for our rapidly increasing population of older or vulnerable residents.
When Central Bedfordshire Council was created, we committed to deliver value for money to local people and until spring 2016 we didn’t increase council tax for many years.
However, the increasing demand for our services and reduced funding from central government means we are no longer able to fund everything without increasing council tax.
So, to provide the services, the council has a plan to:
- continue to find ways to reduce spending by £13.8 million through a range of efficiency savings
- apply the Adult Social Care precept of an increase in council tax of 3% to contribute towards funding for care services
- increase council tax by 1.5% to contribute towards funding of other services
Taken together these measures would allow the council to cover the funding gap it faces.
You can read more about each of these proposals in the following pages.