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Bedfordshire authority looks to balance books through £14m ‘saving measures’

Central Bedfordshire Council has revealed its plans to bridge the gap between the funding the council needs and its predicted income.

In the next year the council says it plans to spend £190m on public services, with over half being spent on adult social care and children’s services.

However, continuing financial pressures and increasing demand for care services stand to make this difficult, with the council set to receive just half of the government grant it received last year in 2018-19.

By 2019-20 the council says that this funding will disappear altogether.

In order to bridge this gap, the council plans to save £13.8m through “a range of saving measures,” including allowing customers to contribute to “top-up” the service they receive and generating income by trading council services.

The council will also seek to make savings by reviewing contracts in order to seek better deals from suppliers and reducing the use of agency work.

As well as making savings the council has also proposed increasing council tax by 3% and applying the adult social care precept of 3% to contribute to care services funding.

Implementing the adult social care precept combined with a 3% increase in council tax would result in a weekly increase of £1.64 for an average household.

Cllr Richard Wenham, deputy leader and executive member for corporate resources, explained: “With councils getting less money from Westminster we need to raise more money through council tax in order to avoid dramatic cuts to our services.”

He went on to say that the council is seeking feedback from residents on the proposed precept, which is specifically to help with the costs of adult social care, and the additional council tax increase.

He continued: “Residents can also give their views on an additional savings package of £13.8m which is on top of the £120m we have already saved since 2009.”

Wenham added that councillors are also considering investing over £86m in capital projects, such as new school buildings and extra-care schemes, next year from external and council funding.

Top image: jamesdavidphoto

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