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You are here: Home Page > Council and Democracy > Council News > Archived News > September 2015 > Budget Challenge 2015

Budget Challenge 2015

BUDGET CHALLENGE CAUSED BY LOOMING FUNDING CRISIS

 

 

Unprecedented cuts in government funding and increasing pressures on services are creating a major challenge to Bedford Borough Council in producing a balanced budget for 2016/17 and beyond.  

 

Over the next 4 years Revenue Support Grant from the government, which stood at £42m in 2013, is forecast to reduce to just £10.7m.

 

On top of the funding challenge, an ageing population means more people are needing help from the Council in their later years. Many in this group will have complex health and social care needs which must be provided for. There has been an increase of £5 million in the cost of care packages since 2013. Spending on support for Children and Adults now accounts for more than 50% of the Council’s budget requirement.

 

Together the Council is forecasting a funding gap of £25 million a year by 2019. This is on the back of £81 million of previous annual savings made since 2010.

 

Proposals for a first raft of new savings will be discussed by the Mayor and Portfolio Holders at the Executive Meeting on 7th October. If agreed following consultation, these will contribute £0.7 million towards the savings total needed. This represents the first steps in what will be a long process over the coming years given the scale of the challenge ahead for the council.

 

Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, said:

 

“The threat to local services from the cuts in Government funding and increased demand is reaching crisis levels. It is clear to everyone that we face a long and gruelling process to deliver balanced budgets in the face of a massive funding shortage. That’s why we want to start consulting residents now on some of the tough choices we need to face in order to protect the most vulnerable in our community.

 

Until now, we have been hugely successful in finding efficiencies in order to protect services, and we will continue to make this the focus. But tough decisions are now clearly unavoidable.

 

I am therefore asking residents to engage with us in this difficult process of making cuts that are being forced upon us. We need to work together to make the right decisions for Bedford Borough now and in the future, in the face of an appalling funding shortfall.

 

Cllr Michael Headley, Finance Portfolio Holder added:

 

“While areas such as health, education and defence have had their budgets protected local councils have been cut year after year. This has a severe impact on the way we are able to fund the services we provide to local residents.

 

Despite the Council having made savings of £81million since 2010 the government is continuing to reduce the council’s ability to support its residents.  We forecast that the latest pressures coupled with significant Government cuts will mean we need to find a further £25million of annual savings over the next 4 years.

 

The Government needs to realise that this approach will have an impact on the lives of people in Bedford Borough. With further cuts predicted every year going forward it’s creating a real threat to the services we are able to provide.”

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