At a meeting on Monday 11th January 2016 Buckinghamshire County Council’s Cabinet recommended a council tax increase of 3.99%.
The increase follows the introduction of new funding rules which mean the Council is losing tens of millions of pounds in grant reductions each year.
The 3.99% increase was recommended by the Cabinet with the aim of keeping key services as robust and viable as possible while protecting the most vulnerable in the face of the financial difficulties.
Members also proposed further 3.99% increases each year for the next three years to help the Council maintain its services.
Cabinet members are campaigning to make the Government aware of the county’s situation and on Tuesday 12th January 2016 arranged a meeting with Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
The changes to government funding, announced last month, left Buckinghamshire as the second worst-affected area in the country in terms of losing its grant.
Council Leader Martin Tett said: ‘It is with great regret that we have had to make these proposals but we really have no choice due to the imminent complete loss of central government grant to the County Council as well as the increase in demand for high-cost services such as those to the county’s elderly and the safeguarding of vulnerable children.‘
According to Martin Tett, the financial challenges will mean:
- Significant reductions across most services.
- The closure of a number of children’s centres.
- A lack of funding to support the integration of health and social care services to residents.
- The inability to resource support to the housing growth plans of the district councils and, in particular, provide the key infrastructure required such as roads and schools.
The council tax increase is in line with the limits set by the Secretary of State before a referendum has to be been triggered. Local authorities are allowed to raise the tax by 1.99% but those with adult social care responsibilities are permitted to increase it by a further 2%.
The final decision on the proposals and overall budget, which will now go out to consultation and scrutiny, will be agreed by full Council at its meeting on Thursday 18th February 2016.