Archived News - Beds County Council
Beds County Council's Executive Committee is set to recommend a 4.33% increase in council tax for 2007/8. This is actually very slightly lower than the anticipated 4.75% increase predicted last year.
The full council will debate and vote on the budget at a meeting on February 15.
Cllr Richard Stay, Deputy Leader and Cabinet member for Finance, said: "The most significant factor in our spending plans and council tax is always the government's grant. We were expecting to be at the bottom of the heap for funding again this year and so it has proved. Last year we got peanuts - this year we got the empty packet.
"With that in mind we've done our level best to keep the increase down and we have been able to limit the pain more than we thought we would. But we know that council tax is still too high in Bedfordshire. We are working hard to work more efficiently so we keep the lid on increases, but keep on investing in the services residents tell us matter the most.
New investment in priority areas is a key feature of the budget. Community safety is also set to benefit from a funding boost and involve town and parish councils in a unique partnership.
A pot of £1 million is available for schemes to tackle the fear of crime, which according to an Ipsos-MORI Residents' Survey last May, is at a higher level in Bedfordshire than in London.
Town and parish councils would be able to access money to use on schemes such as Police Community Support Officers and facilities for young people.
Older people are set to benefit from a £2 million project for refurbishing care homes and extra money for supported housing, as an alternative to traditional residential care.
The growth agenda is also high on the council's priority list with £2.1 million over the next two years to support economic growth and bring new jobs to the county and over a quarter of a million to help manage housing growth.
There will also be capital investment in improving roads of £48 million over the next five years, and £150 million for improvements to schools.
Cllr Madeline Russell, Leader of the Council, said: "Setting the budget is always a difficult balancing act but we have remained true to our commitment to steadily reduce the level of council tax increases.
"This year, through consulting with residents on the services which matter most and working more efficiently we have been able to invest £4 million from efficiency savings in services which Bedfordshire residents told us matter most to them, and make sure that we have kept the increase in council tax as low as possible."
Assuming councillors pass the proposals, a band D household in Bedfordshire will pay council tax of £1,083.33 for county council services in 2007/8.
This is the major part of council tax bills, but smaller sums for other authorities, such as parish, town and district councils, police and the fire service, will have to be added on.
Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 23 January 2007