Budget Challenge 2015
BUDGET CHALLENGE CAUSED BY LOOMING FUNDING
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
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
“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.”