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BCC's last ever budget passed by Cabinet

Bucks County Council

Published by Dan Gooding at 12:24pm 11th February 2019. (Updated at 12:28pm 11th February 2019)

The final budget for Buckinghamshire County Council was approved by their cabinet this morning, including a 3% council tax rise.

BCC's last ever budget, including £100 million for schools and £61 million for roads, went under three days of scrutiny last month.

The Budget Scrutiny report makes a number of recommendations including:

  • Proposed contingency budgets for both Health and Wellbeing and Children's Services should be reviewed once more to fully take into account possible additional demand pressures on services and to reflect the increased level of complexity of cases being dealt with by our social care teams.
  • A minimum increase of 5% per year should be added to the Strategic Highways Maintenance capital budget to take into account both the impact of increased traffic on our roads and inflation.
  • A county-wide street lighting survey should be carried out to assess the condition of all street lights and £2m should be allocated from Capital funding to speed up the current programme of replacement works. Investigation should also be made into the use of smart technology.
  • Additional money should be added to the 2019/20 contingency budget to build up the current reserve allocated for the transformation to a unitary authority. It is proposed that this money comes from the county council's share of additional income expected from the Business Rates Retention Pilot that the county and district councils will be taking part in.
  • The Children's Services budget for legal fees should be carefully considered so that the figure allocated is realistic and any unforeseen overspends are avoided.
  • The extra funding for gully cleansing and weed management recommended by the committee for the past two years should continue in order to prevent further decline and in the longer term, act as a 'spend to save' measure.
  • All service area budgets should be presented in a much clearer way to make it easier to identify the major costs of running the council. This will create greater transparency for both the public and councillors

Chairman of the Budget Scrutiny Select Committee, David Watson said:

"As is the case every year, we know the council faces a fine balancing act in continuing to provide the range of services needed under increasing financial pressures. This year is no different with Buckinghamshire mirroring the rest of the country in facing increased strains on its social care services in particular.

"We appreciate the increased level of openness shown by cabinet members when put under the spotlight by the Budget Scrutiny Committee but there is still work to be done to improve the way financial reports are presented and we would be happy to work with colleagues to help this to happen and hope that it can be achieved during the coming year.

"Finally, once again I would like to thank all those members of public who submitted questions for us to consider as part of this year's inquiry."

A lot of the talk at today's meeting was about that huge demand, at a time when money is really tight.

Councillors were saying there just isn't any more cash out there and they have to make the best of what resources are available.

The full council will have the final say in a few weeks.

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