£100 back in your pocket and £25 million extra spent on potholes: Budget approved by county council but leader warns of future tax hikes

Martin Tett
Martin Tett
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The amount of council tax Bucks County Council takes will be frozen for the third successive year after councillors passed 2013/14 budget proposals.

The budget, approved at a full council meeting yesterday (Thursday), also includes an additional £25 million investment in road repairs and an increase in funding to the voluntary sector.

A11 Week 06'MCBH'DP'View, Bucks County Council office block, BCC, County Hall, Walton Street, Aylesbury

A11 Week 06'MCBH'DP'View, Bucks County Council office block, BCC, County Hall, Walton Street, Aylesbury

According to the council, the combined effect of the three-year tax freeze will see around £100 back in the pockets of residents.

Council leader Martin Tett said it was a ‘budget for jobs and growth’ but warned future savings may mean a council tax hike. Government funding to the council fell by £13.6 million for 2013/14 and further cuts are expected in coming years.

Funding has been reinstated for short breaks for disabled children, Connexions and counselling provision for young people and Supporting People contracts, which provide housing help.

An additional £500,000 will be provided over the next two years to help charities bid for services.

Mr Tett said: “Reaching a balanced budget was incredibly challenging but I believe we have achieved a solution based on compromise, reality and affordability. I’m also proud that we’ve delivered a £100 saving in council tax in these difficult times and I hope this will go at least someway to help residents cope with other rising household bills.

“In the last three years we have saved £68 million and we plan further savings of £45 million by 2016/17. That’s the reality of the budget pressures facing councils like Buckinghamshire. However, savings will become more difficult to find and at some point I expect we will need to increase income from council tax if we are to meet rising demand and increased costs for key services.”

The council also approved its strategic plan, which provides a blueprint for service provision until 2017.

Under the title ‘The Enterprise Council’, the plan prioritises a number of areas. These include ensuring Bucks has a thriving economy that is creating jobs, improving transport networks, protecting the county’s environment, giving people more say in services and encouraging people to do more for themselves, while providing a safety net for the most vulnerable residents.

Bucks County Council’s tax freeze comes after Aylesbury Vale District Council agreed to raise its council tax by an average of £2.62 a year, while the amount residents pay towards Thames Valley Police will go up by £3.08 annually for a Band D property. Aylesbury Town Council and the fire service have both agreed tax freezes for 2013/14.