Each year the Council must prepare a budget and as part of the process seeks the views of residents and businesses regarding priority areas for the year ahead.
This year has been exceptional. We have incurred significant additional costs and seen income in many areas reduced in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. We have lost income in a range of areas, including parking revenue, planning applications, council tax and business rates and rental from property we own. We have incurred additional costs in providing extra support to our most vulnerable, the need to buy-in additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other one off costs linked to the pandemic.
We’ve had some support from government, but there is still a shortfall of some £7million in our budget, and given the rising infection rates locally and nationally, we expect the Council to be further impacted financially.”
The fallout of the coronavirus pandemic is likely to affect the council and the delivery of its services for several years to come. The budget and budget priorities will reflect this.
Becoming a single unitary authority in April this year has enabled us to coordinate our response in a more focused manner – working through a single Cabinet and executive structure, leading to more effective results. As a direct result of the merger of the former local councils into a single unitary council, we have also started to make savings. Though it is likely to take several years before the full benefit of the reorganisation is realised
In considering recovery from the pandemic, we will look to focus on the priority areas outlined in our Corporate Plan:
- strengthening our communities
- improving our environment
- protecting the vulnerable
- increasing prosperity
Although the plan was developed before the pandemic, these priorities remain even more relevant today.
In preparing the budget, we also need to be aware of our statutory responsibilities: the services that we must continue to fund, such as Adult Social Care and Children’s Social Care. We also need to consider more limited areas of discretionary spend that improve the quality of life for all Buckinghamshire residents.
We are committed to making savings where we can – this will include a vacancy freeze and reducing the use of agency staff; making efficiencies wherever we can. We will also continue to press government for full cost recovery and the ability to freely use ring fenced funds.
But there are many uncertainties. Will there be a second wave and a lockdown – that could impact on residents and businesses; will the government cut public spending – and support for local councils; will there be continued reduced income from services such as parking and property rental; what will happen if providers of essential services such as care homes fail; will we see inflation pressures as the cost of goods and services increase? All these factors make preparing the budget for 2021/22 extremely challenging.
In considering your response to the budget consultation survey take time to reflect on the wider needs of the whole of Buckinghamshire in addition to the specific priorities for yourself, your family, your immediate community, your business, or your organisation
All Councils have a legal duty to limit their spending to the income they receive each year. So, our budget must balance. The vast majority of our budget each year needs to be spent on the services we are required by law to provide such as social care for adults and children. Below is a summary of the current spending breakdown for the year 2020/21.
We are proposing to allocate the 2021/22 budget in the same way.
- Adults Social Care £147,926,313
- Children’s Social Care (including early help services)£78,801,385
- Roads & Transport (including Rights of Way) £29,572,181
- Education (excluding the Dedicated Schools Grant income of £472 million) £24,580,619
- Waste & Recycling £22,712,918
- ICT £11,873,014
- Other corporate services £11,805,275
- Finance £10,169,839
- Human Resources £4,431,949
- Housing £3,898,672
- Improving Town Centres £2,838,287
- Street Cleaning £1,432,647
- Housing Benefits £848,743
- Open/Green Spaces (Including country parks, maintained open spaces/play areas) £677,288
Give us your views
Please let us know what you think by completing our short online survey below.