Council recognises financial pressures Central Bedfordshire residents face as it proposes lower tax rise

Council Tax
Council Tax

A record level of public feedback to Central Beds Council’s budget plans for a 6% rise in council tax has resulted in a smaller increase put forward instead.

Following its public consultation, the council’s Executive is recommending that the council accepts a lower overall increase in council tax of 4.5% as it recognises residents are facing “real pressures”.

More people took part in the budget consultation than ever before and whilst the majority of respondents supported an increase of 3% to fund care services for vulnerable adults, views on additional council tax increases for other services were more mixed.

Councillor Richard Wenham, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Corporate Resources, said: “We have listened to what the public have told us through the consultation on our savings plans and council tax options.

“It’s clear that the majority of people are prepared to pay more for vital care services, but fewer people supported the additional 3% council tax option than were opposing it. We need to recognise that people are facing real pressures, particularly those on fixed incomes, and we must respond to that.”

The Executive’s recommended budget includes the application of an Adult Social Care precept which would see an increase in council tax of 3% specifically to contribute towards funding vital care services. It rejected the option of increasing council tax by an additional 3% for funding of other services, recommending the alternative option a smaller increase of 1.5%.

The application of the Adult Social Care precept would result in an annual increase of £42.64 for an average household (Band D) bill. Combined with the newly proposed 1.5% increase in council tax, the total annual increase would be £63.44. Under the original proposal it would have been a total of £85.28.

The public also wanted to see the council continuing with its efficiency drive which is set to bring savings of £13.8million. This is in addition to the £120million of efficiency savings the council has made since 2009.

Additionally, the Executive recommended investment of more than £85million on capital projects, including road and footway maintenance, new school buildings, leisure centres and extra care schemes.

“We work really hard to keep these rises as low as possible but have to accept that Government now expects councils to fund local services through council tax. Next year our increases will equate to £6.4million of income, but the cut in central Government funding will be £9million. This means the pressure to continue to drive efficiency continues and we’re committed to do so” added Councillor Wenham.

The final budget is subject to approval by Council at a meeting on February 22.

> Read more about the budget on the council’s website