An additional £10 million could be ploughed into the county’s overstretched children’s services if new budget plans are given the green light.
Bucks County Council’s (BCC) draft budget for the next four years also sets aside an extra £3.7 million for adult social care, while £61 million has been set aside to fund road repairs.
BCC’s cabinet met on Monday (December 10) to discuss the draft budgets from 2019/20 until 2022/2023 – after the public were asked what areas they would like to see prioritised in the coming years.
If the budget is approved, children’s services funds will increase from £65.2 million to £75.9 million as demand continues to increase, while the adult social care pot will increase from £132.3 million from £136 million.
BCC’s portion of council tax will also increase by another 2.99 per cent in 2019/20, however there will be no adult social care precept – an additional charge to raise cash for social services.
The draft budget also allocates £110.6 million to funding primary and secondary school places and a further £16.7 million for schools’ maintenance work.
Leader, Martin Tett, said BCC is “investing heavily in protecting the most vulnerable”, however there are still “major risks” in the budget due to current “uncertainties” in local government finance.
Local authorities across the country are still waiting to hear government’s plans for adult social care reform and the results of the fair funding review, which assesses how local government funding is allocated.
Cllr Tett added creating the draft budget has been “tough” due to pressures in children’s and adult social care, however thanked government for listening to councils’ pleas for extra cash to be ploughed into the services.
Addressing the meeting, Cllr Tett said: “The two main problems have been the massive problems we have had in both adult social care, the health and wellbeing portfolio, and children’s services.
“There are really major pressures again this year and they have been really hard to contain. That’s required a re-prioritising of the budget.
“Credit to the government they have listened to the lobbying done by this council, the Local Government Association and other bodies, and they have provided us with a range of one-off funding for children’s adults and general social care so that we can lay in some contingency funding against that.”
Cabinet member for children’s services, Warren Whyte, welcomed the “significant investment” in vulnerable children and adult social care – which will allow more money to be ploughed into children’s care placements.
He said: “Primarily the investment in the next year will be a significant increase in looked after children’s placement budgets, which is quite challenging.
“We are mitigating that with much more rigorous activity on how we place children more locally in more appropriate placements, but also we will be bringing in our own children’s homes that we previously approved a £2 million investment on.”
Cabinet members approved the draft budget and it will now be sent out for further scrutiny by councillors and members of the public.