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Emphatic Cross-Party Vote Approves Budget Which Puts the Vulnerable First in Tough Times

February 8, 2017 6:20 PM

CoinsThe Budget proposed by Mayor Dave Hodgson and his Cabinet was passed with overwhelming cross-party support, with 39 votes for and just 1 against.

The context for the budget is a combination of a massive cut in government funding and a sharp rise in the need for services, especially social care for the growing elderly population. The Council's main government grant is falling from over £30 million in 2015 to just £5.8 million in 2019. By 2020/21, the authority faces a funding gap of £27.5 million.

The budget includes major savings to help close this gap and ensure a balanced budget. Meanwhile, it prioritises protecting the most vulnerable in society:

  • An additional £2.7m for adult social care packages, following on from a £3.2m boost last year.
  • Investing over £1m extra in Children's social care, supporting young people leaving care and increasing the number of front line social workers.
  • Support for those in greatest housing need with an extra £200,000 for emergency accommodation.
  • Continued investment in disabled facility grants to enable people to live safely at home
  • Refurbishment of the Council's residential homes to provide improved places to live for those who rely on these services.
  • A major investment in the change to a 2 tier school system and the replacement of all temporary buildings with permanent ones.

Bedford Borough Council's council tax increase is held down to 1.75%, while the Government's social care levy will add another 3% to bills.

Commenting, Mayor Dave said: "In the face of brutal government funding cuts and increasing need for services, this budget puts support for the vulnerable in our community first. Those relentless, punishing government cuts for local services have meant that difficult decisions are unavoidable. So we are grateful to everyone who took part in producing this budget, and for the overwhelming support it received across all parties and independents."

Liberal Democrat Finance Portfolio Holder Cllr Michael Headley added: "This budget prioritises supporting the most vulnerable. We are protecting many front line services which have been slashed elsewhere, and we are changing the way the council works in order to maintain services as far as possible. We're grateful that the Full Council gave such strong support for a budget which puts residents first, in what are dreadful financial times."