Budget 2019 - background
In the next financial year (from April 2019 to March 2020), Central Bedfordshire Council is planning to spend around £196 million on public services across our area.
Whilst police, fire and health services are funded separately, our services include bin collections and recycling, maintenance of roads and pavements, libraries, leisure and vital services that protect vulnerable adults and children.
We know how much local people value these services. But we also know there are difficult decisions to make in setting a budget that protects the services we need and provides value for money to Council Tax payers.
The budget challenge
A range of factors are making the job of balancing our books increasingly difficult. The amount of money we need to maintain services for the communities of Central Bedfordshire is increasing, whilst we are receiving less funding from government.
There are also a number of issues which are beyond our local control that could have a big impact on our costs, such as the changing nature of our population and some economic uncertainties.
Currently, around two-thirds of our budget is spent on services for children and vulnerable adults, and demand for these services, in particular, is rising.
For example, learning disabilities are being increasingly recognised and over the last three years the council has been called upon to support 19% more children and 9% more adults who have been assessed as having such disabilities.
As pressure for housing increases nationally, the local demands for temporary accommodation have risen dramatically, with three times as many people needing help than four years ago, because they find themselves homeless.
In the past decade we’ve also seen a 43% 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 means that providing this vital care costs us more too.
The government has changed how council services are funded.
When the council was created ten years ago, we received some £50 million each year from government towards the costs of delivering our local services. This represented over a quarter of our budget but since then, this funding has reduced year-on-year and in 2019/20 we won’t receive any of this funding from government. The government now expects local authorities to raise Council Tax to fund services.
National and international changes and uncertainties
Just like local businesses, all councils have to deal with the effects of changes that are beyond their control.
National changes are anticipated that could have an impact on us, including the way that business rates operate or the implications of Brexit on our local economy and the council.