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Bedford Borough Liberal Democrats

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Council discusses Transformation Plan in face of Coronavirus Pressures

October 30, 2020 7:03 PM
Originally published by Dave Hodgson - Mayor of Bedford Borough

Cllr Michael HeadleyEarlier this week, Bedford Borough Council's Executive discussed the £26.4million funding gap faced by the Council, and the proposals to meet this financial challenge.

Due to the impact of coronavirus, the Council has to manage the vast majority of this gap- £21.8million- in next year's Budget, which will be set in the coming months.

The impact of COVID-19 has affected services across the Council, with new ways of working and new demands, placing the council under unprecedented pressure in working to deliver care for the vulnerable and elderly while keeping vital day-to-day operations running in extremely challenging circumstances.

The Council is looking to maximise savings through more use of technology and streamlining council processes. This will build on the Transformation Programme which started in 2017 and has seen around 70 projects completed and £18million saved by working in a more efficient way.

However, given the size of the challenge the Council faces in 2021/2022 there is a need to look at savings in how they deliver some services, and new fees for services such as planning advice.

Councillor Michael Headley, Portfolio Holder for Finance said "The financial impact of coronavirus is unlike anything we have faced before. We need to bridge a gap of £21.8million- or nearly one sixth of our net budget - by next year. Previously we have had to look to save this amount across four years. Councils across the country are being hit very hard in these circumstances. We have had a decade of making savings as our Government funding has reduced, and now with the challenge of coronavirus and the unknown potential impact of Brexit we are facing some very uncertain times. Through the Transformation Programme, the Council is working in a more efficient way and we are constantly looking for ways to build on this. But this alone will not meet the financial challenge for us and we are looking at potential savings right across the Council. We face some challenging decisions in the coming months and years, and we will continue to do our utmost to minimise the impact on local services."

The Transformation Programme report can be found on the Council's website.