Recommended council tax rise lower than expected

Bucks County Council leader Martin Tett
Bucks County Council leader Martin Tett

Major proposals including investing over £64 million pounds in repairing roads and pavements across the county while protecting key services to the most vulnerable were recommended by Bucks County Council (BCC) cabinet today, Monday.

If agreed by full council next Thursday, this would be funded by a 1.5 per cent increase in council tax, the first in four years, meaning an average increase of 31p per household per week.

The county council has kept council tax frozen for the past three years, while inflation has risen by almost 11 per cent in that period.

The investment in roads amounts to £15 million per year for the next four years.

Pavements will see an additional £1.7 million for repairs next year, followed by £1 million per year for the following three years.

This investment has been made possible by a combination of continued tight cost control, planned savings and increased income.

Cabinet welcomed the decision by central government to reverse an earlier proposal to remove the New Homes Bonus grant.

A spokesman said this has enabled the level of council tax increase to be reduced from the proposed 1.9 per cent in last December’s draft budget.

Cabinet members also reversed or reduced some savings originally proposed in the draft budget.

These include provision of short respite breaks for disabled children, funding for the young people’s advice service Connexions, weed spraying and funding to voluntary and community groups.

To support the extra focus on preventing child sexual exploitation in BCC’s strategic plan, an extra £200,000 has been allocated to the children’s services budget.

County council leader Martin Tett, said: “This has been an extraordinarily difficult budget.

“We have had to plan with major uncertainty on the level of central government funding that we would receive.

“We have listened to our residents, who wanted us to protect the services to the most vulnerable whilst continuing our long-term strategy for improving our roads. “Thanks to the restoration of the New Homes Bonus grant, combined with better-than-expected council tax receipts, we have managed to both reduce the proposed increase in council tax and continue a major road and pavement repair programme.”

But he added: “I am aware that the current dreadful weather is doing terrible damage to our roads and I am discussing whether extra resources need to be made available to help repair them.

“In summary, this budget has been a very difficult balancing act. We have tried hard to meet residents’ wishes on pavements, roads and key services, while keeping the council tax increase down to the absolute minimum.”

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