Budget 2022: Council protects services despite government cuts
Originally published by Dave Hodgson - Mayor of Bedford Borough
Bedford Borough Council has published the proposed 2022/23 Budget that outlines plans to keep Council Tax rises below inflation, improve efficiency at Borough Hall to prevent cuts to frontline services and includes major investments to support residents and protect the environment.
Finance Portfolio Holder Councillor Michael Headley said "This Budget ensures that we can continue to provide quality services and support for residents when they need it most. It ensures we are taking real action to meet our zero carbon target and tackle the climate emergency. And it ensures our Borough continues to improve and prosper, so that it remains a brilliant place to live and work."
The Mayor's budget keeps the rise in Council Tax to a lower rate than inflation. The core Council Tax rise is 1.99%, but the government's decision to choose Council Tax to fund adult social care will add on another 2% in Adult Social Care Precept. This is less than the maximum percentage the government have allowed for. Last year's increased collection of Council Tax has meant that there is an extra £3.5 million, which has meant that the Council is able to keep this year's Council Tax bills as low as possible.
Councillor Headley continued "This Budget has been put together in the shadow of reduced government funding over recent years, the increased needs of the most vulnerable such as those needing adult social care and the impact of the pandemic. The main government grant we receive has been slashed from £30 million in 2015, to now just £6 million. Instead of properly funding local government, the Conservatives are choosing to push more and more of the costs onto local taxpayers. ."
Despite the lack of government support, Bedford Borough Council will continue to provide vital frontline services. The Council will work ever more efficiently and make further savings of £4.5 million to prevent cuts to frontline services.
The Budget also sets out major investment to help tackle climate change, support residents in their time of need, and improve the Borough as a place to live and work:
Tackling Climate Change
- Moving the council's vehicle fleet to electric vehicles and other alternative fuels.
- More Renewable Solar Power Generation on council buildings and the Green Energy Park.
- More tree planting as part of 10,000 trees planted this season
- Social care support for adults in their time of need
- Investing in meeting the needs of children with special educational needs and disability
- Accommodation and support for the homeless and rough sleepers
Improving the Borough
- An extra £3 million on road and pavement renewal
- Additional investment in grounds maintenance
- Investment in Bedford Town Centre
- Enhancing the Embankment and Riverside area
- Major 8-site playground refurbishment programme
- Tackling the danger of speeding
Mayor Dave Hodgson said "This is a Budget that puts the needs of residents first. I am pleased that we have been able to make the savings necessary so that we can continue to provide quality frontline services and protect and enhance our environment."