Council agrees budget, council tax to rise

Leader of the council Martin Tett (Left) and opposition leader Steven Lambert addressed councillors
Leader of the council Martin Tett (Left) and opposition leader Steven Lambert addressed councillors

Council tax in Buckinghamshire will rise by 5.99%, an increase of £1.40 a week for Band D homes.

The increase, agreed by full council on February 22, includes a 3% adult social care precept proposed by the government.

Council leader Martin Tett said: “We are facing, as councils, a pretty severe financial settlement ahead of us, many councils like us decided to take the coalition governments could tax raise grant and probably bitterly regret it now.”

“Nationally, councils are experiencing a rapid growth in demand particularly for adult social care and children services, however, I am pleased to say that despite these challenges we are not as a council not in the dire financial position that many around us are.

“We have to be realistic to maintain both the services for the vulnerable in our community, but also maintain a minimum on services on those things that most residents look to us for, and so we must increase our council tax.”

“The real problem for me is not that we are spending on protecting some of the more vulnerable people in our community, because that is absolutely the right thing we should be doing, but it does mean the services that the vast majority of our population looks to us for and uses everyday - decent roads, decent pavements, decent schools, decent libraries - keep being squeezed.

Cllr Steven Lambert

Cllr Steven Lambert

“We just don't have the money to maintain those services in a way that the average person expects. The reality is that council tax is going on adult social care and children's services.”

There will also be £26.7m investment in the county’s highways infrastructure, including an extra £14m for road resurfacing,and £36.6m on providing enough school places.

The county council has seen government support decline from nearly £61m five years ago to £8m this year.

Along with Dorset, Buckinghamshire becomes the first county council to receive nothing at all.

Cllr Martin Tett

Cllr Martin Tett

Cabinet members were subjected to three days of rigorous questioning over council finances by the Budget Scrutiny Select Committee in January

Cllr Steven Lambert leader of the opposition described the council tax rise as "outrageous".

He said: "The budget is technically balanced. It's a budget I can say I understand, it's a budget that neither excites me nor gives me comfort or confidence.

"My conscience says that I need to give children's services and adult social care the support and cash it needs to deliver, not from reserves, but upfront."