Bedford Borough Council's Executive will meet on Wednesday 20 January to discuss the proposed Budget for 2021/22, and how the Council will continue to deliver vital services for local people against a backdrop of continued financial challenges.
Government funding to local councils has dropped over the last decade, while the COVID-19 pandemic has seen services placed under unprecedented pressure as the Council supports and cares for the most vulnerable through extremely difficult times.
The proposed Budget 2021/22 sets out how the Council plans to save £10.9million in one year while continuing to deliver those vital services that local people rely on such as social care for the elderly or vulnerable, bin collections, and keeping our roads safe and well-maintained.
Savings are targeted at the way the Council operates including the use of new technology and streamlined ways of working, making savings within directorates and increasing income generation, so that vital frontline services are protected.
With an increasingly elderly population and people with more complex needs that must be supported, Adults Services continues to represent the largest proportion of the Council's budget. Just over 40% of the Council's proposed total 2021/22 Net Budget of £121million is dedicated to Adults Services. To help ensure that these services can be delivered, the Budget proposals include applying the government's Adult Social Care precept of 1.75% to Council Tax this year.
This is alongside a proposed core Council Tax increase of 1.99%. Together the proposals would mean an increase of less than £5 a month over the year for an average Band D property, or a total increase of £58.59 for the year.
This meeting of the Executive will also be considering the Council's Capital Programme. This is different to the revenue Budget, as it covers one-off investment in schemes and projects rather than ongoing spend to provide services.
This Programme includes investment in the town centre, providing emergency accommodation for the homeless, expanding schools to create more school places in growing areas and road and pavement resurfacing and improvements.
Councillor Michael Headley, Portfolio Holder for Finance said "This last year has seen some of the most challenging times for our Council, with the pressure that COVID-19 has placed on our services while simultaneously making it even more important that the Council is here to provide vital support for people who need it. We are now faced with making over £10million of savings in just one financial year. This proposed Budget sets out how we plan to do that, by becoming more efficient and making savings where we can, while continuing to protect much-needed services for local people. We are also making sure that we continue investing in our Borough for the future with new school classrooms, improving our roads and pavements and supporting the town centre."
If agreed by Executive on Wednesday 20 January, these reports will go to a meeting of the Bedford Borough Full Council on Wednesday 3 February.