1% tax rise planned by Central Bedfordshire Council, but would you be prepared to double the increase?

Council tax bill
Council tax bill

Central Beds Council’s proposed 1% increase in council tax for the next financial year could be doubled to 2% if residents back the higher charge.

The authority has planned for the 1% rise which would equate to 29p per week (£15.08 per year) for an average (Band D) household, but says it could invest in more services if residents back a 2% budget rise (58p per week/ £30.16 per year) in a public consultation which runs until 5pm on January 29.

Central Beds Council's offices at Chicksands

Central Beds Council's offices at Chicksands

CBC says protecting and maintaining vital frontline services is at heart of its proposals for the forthcoming year.

It is planning to spend £196 million on the services that are used directly by local residents. Almost two-thirds of this sum will be spent on supporting and protecting vulnerable adults and children, with the rest of the funding being dedicated to things that benefit the whole community such as transport, bin collections, recycling, libraries and leisure.

However, the council says it is looking to deliver its spending plans in the context of reducing Government funding, some economic uncertainties due to Brexit, and increasing demand for care services from a population that is living longer greater as well as greater recognition of the requirements of both children and adults with learning disabilities or special educational needs.

They say, historically, local councils received more money from Government to deliver local services but now there is an expectation that council tax will be increased to pay towards the increasing costs of doing so.

To help bridge the gap between the funding the council needs and the income it expects, CBC has a plan to reduce spending by £14.8million through a range of saving measures and increase council tax by 1% to contribute towards funding services.

Councillor Richard Wenham, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Corporate Resources, said: “We want to deliver good value for money for council tax payers whilst both protecting vital frontline services and investing more in the services that residents have told us are important to them.

“To achieve this, we are proposing to increase council tax by 1% from next April. This would work out as an extra 29p per week for an average (Band D) household.

“However, we’re also asking residents their views about the possibility of a 2% increase which would work out as 58p extra a week. This isn’t what we are planning for but if residents supported this it would enable the council to invest even more in local services.

“Residents can also give their views on a range of measures to save money. In total these would deliver an extra £14.8million which is on top of the £135million we have already saved since 2009.

“Such measures include seeking better deals from our suppliers; reorganising some services and getting involved as soon as possible with children, families or adults who are vulnerable – by working with people early we can help them avoid needing more support in the long term, which saves us money.

“Councillors are also considering investing almost £94million in capital projects next year from external and council funding and I would urge everyone who lives here to get involved in this consultation and have their say.

“Projects being proposed across Central Bedfordshire include new school buildings, replacing care homes with modern facilities, improving existing roads and building new ones.”

To have your say on the council’s spending plans, visit www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/budget2019, or pick up a paper copy of the consultation summary and questionnaire at council offices in Dunstable and Chicksands or at local libraries.

Councillors will then consider all responses before the final budget is approved at full council at a meeting on February 21.

The CBC precept makes up the bulk of the overall council tax bill, with the police and fire service, plus local parish councils also setting their own funding needs.