County council budget plans put forward for consultation

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BUDGET proposals to freeze council tax and protect the county’s front line services as far as possible were put forward by members on Monday.

The plans, submitted by the cabinet at Bucks County Council, is based on the county’s Local Government Finance Settlement for 2012-13, which will be £58.487 million, a reduction of £7.97 million on last year’s grant from central government.

The settlement includes a one-off council tax grant of £5.8 million to be used specifically on a council tax freeze in the coming financial year – equivalent to a 2.5 per cent council tax increase.

Overall, the council’s net operating revenue budget for 2012/13 will be £325 million, with capital investment of about £90 million.

Taking into account a range of service-specific government grants, such as early years intervention and new homes bonus, the overall impact means Bucks funding in the next financial year will increase by only about £1 million.

But these grants come with obligations, and do not help address inflationary pressures facing the council, accounting for more than £3 million.

Martin Tett, leader of the county council, said: “We’re having to make tough decisions.

“We’re in a period of global instability and Buckinghamshire isn’t immune from the challenges we see and hear about all around us.

“What’s important is that the council’s priorities are aligned with residents’ – working to make the roads better, stimulating jobs growth especially for young people, protecting vulnerable people, supporting the voluntary sector, and freezing council tax at a time of austerity to help our residents.”

The draft financial plans will now go forward for public consultation to be reviewed on February 16, 2012.