Council sets balanced budget in tough times
Thursday February 21st, 2013
Milton Keynes Council last night (Weds Feb 20th) agreed a wide-ranging series of measures to close a multi-million pound gap in the council’s budget.
Following a detailed debate, councillors agreed to a series of savings and efficiencies to save around £16.6m this financial year. However, the continued reductions in Government funding and the additional demands for services mean the Council will need to further reduce costs by £45m over the following four years (to 2017/18) -a total of £31m over the next three years.
Council Leader Andrew Geary said: “This has been a very difficult budget to set, in one of the most challenging periods I can remember. There have been no easy answers.
”But we have listened to the views of local people, and where possible, we have factored in changes to the budget. For example, we were able to stage the proposed increase in Junior Concession fares over three years, restricting increases to 10p from 35p to just 45p next year. This increase comes after nine years of no increase at all.
“We have also agreed to fund our Neighbourhood Wardens for a further year to allow parishes time to decide if they wish to take on this service thereafter.
“Following the level of response to the increase in parking charges, we have very carefully considered the options and the impact to services of not increasing these charges. We concluded that the parking charge increase must continue, but we will also be conducting a review of parking spaces to identify if more cheap rate spaces can be made available.
“The decision this year to implement a small rise of 1.95% in Council Tax has not been taken lightly. We are obliged to make savings this year of another £16.6m million and it simply isn’t possible to achieve this level of saving by just redesigning the way in which services are delivered.
“After much thought and consideration as to how this would work we have come to the conclusion that, alongside efficiency measures, a modest increase in Council Tax will ensure that our services to you the tax payer are maintained and enhanced where necessary. Despite this rise Milton Keynes still maintains one of the lowest Council Tax levels in the area.”
Some of the savings include:
• Savings of £4.4m by reducing council overheads, including rationalisation of properties, better use of core buildings and as a result of buying out a major contract.
• £5m through better efficiency and improved commissioning of council services We are focusing especially on client and contract management where we believe there is plenty of room for improvement.
• £2.6m through service redesign, including £520k through reshaping neighbourhood services and children’s services whilst continuing to deliver the same level of service.
• An additional £1.8m of extra income raised through services which the council charges for.
Cllr Geary added: “But we continue to look at new and creative ways of dealing with any shortfalls in funding. For example this week, we received confirmation from the Government that we would be part of their City Deals programme, which rewards councils that come up with innovative ways of delivering services.”
Public consultation on the budget ran late November last year until February 11th.