Buckinghamshire County Council approve 130th and final ever budget

BCC Leader Martin Tett
BCC Leader Martin Tett

Bucks County Council’s (BCC) last budget in the authority’s 130-year history was given the green light last week– including a 2.99 per cent council tax increase for residents.

Members gathered at county hall in Aylesbury to discuss the final budget before the new unitary authority is implemented in April next year.

A 2.99 per cent council tax increase was approved by councillors, equating to £37 a year per band D home.

The extra cash will be ploughed into children’s services – which has faced ongoing pressures this year as demands continue to rise.

More funding has also been earmarked for adult social care, road repairs and weed killing in towns and villages across the county.

Leader of BCC, Martin Tett, reminded members the council is facing “challenging times” as this year it became the first authority, along with Dorset, to lose all of its revenue support grant from government.

However, Cllr Tett confirmed the council will be able to hold on to an extra £11 million of its own revenue funding next year, following the cancellation of negative revenue support grant (RSG) for 2019/20.

Negative RSG is the government’s reduction BCC’s business rates income, with the cash then handed out to other authorities across the country.

Members raised concerns over cuts to recycling centres and members’ allowances for road repairs, however Cllr Tett said the council must have “adequate reserves to cope with the unexpected”.

He said: “It is important this council has adequate reserves to cope with crises. When you go down to £31 million to £13 million, that is a catastrophic problem for this council.

“Given the size of the operation we are the infrastructure for which we are responsible, not to mention the social care responsibilities we have which are extremely expensive, we must have adequate reserves to cope with the unexpected.

“That’s why we have to make a prudent decision on the balance between having reserves and funding other one-off elements of expenditure.”