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Budget Challenges

Further Pressure on Council Services as Government Cuts Continue

 

Bedford Borough Council is set to consider further planned savings as it faces continued cuts in funding and increased demand on its services.

 

Despite already achieving savings of £90 million the Council needs to identify further savings of £27.5 million to provide services to the residents of Bedford Borough. This follows cuts in the amount of funding that the Council will receive to provide services, at a time of increasing need for services, particularly social care.

 

The Council’s Revenue Support Grant from the government, which stood at £30m in 2015, is forecast to hit £6million in 2019

 

Bedford Borough Council’s Executive has approved plans to help bridge the gap in funding as well as continuing to work on a number of savings initiatives.

 

Key initiatives include the Council’s Digital Transformation Plan which is already well underway. The digitalisation of Council services and the new online systems seek to make savings of £10 million while also providing services more focused on residents needs with more services available online 24/7.

 

The Council is also looking at further savings in the way it buys in services.

 

Reviews of key areas are continuing across the Council. The Council’s Executive approved two major programmes at this week’s meeting, namely the Library Strategy 2017-2022, which looks at the ways the library service will be delivered for the next 5 years; and changes to the frequency of black bin collections..

 

As well as this, the One Public Estate programme is working to develop underused public sector land and property that may be suitable to sell or rent, boosting local jobs, growth and freeing up assets. The Council is receiving funding and practical support from the Government Property Unit and the Local Government Association, to remove bureaucratic red tape and unblock barriers to improve and develop of publicly owned sites.

 

However, despite these cost saving measures, cuts in government funding and increasing pressures on services are creating a major challenge to Bedford Borough Council in balancing the books for the coming years.

 

 On top of increasing cuts from the government, an ageing population means more people need help from the Council in their later years.

 

Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, said:

 

‘Punishing Government cuts have created a full-blown funding crisis for local services.  Tough decisions are now unavoidable, as the impact of relentless, ongoing cuts combines with growing need for social care services.’

 

“Residents can be assured that we will do all we can to minimise the impact on local residents, particularly those most in need of care and support.”

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