Budget 2021/22: here when you need us

Our draft budget proposals have been published. If you’d like to give feedback on the proposals, please email budget@milton-keynes.gov.uk by 31 January. Council will receive the proposals on 24 February 2021.

 

Budget 2021/22 headlines

  • Continuing to invest in vital services at a time of need;
  • Prudent use of reserves to balance the budget and prevent severe cuts;
  • Investing in our economy, green recovery, jobs and skills;
  • Keeping council tax low to help hard pressed families.

 

Our priorities

Milton Keynes Council is clear that we have a strong vision for the city and we are setting our budget for the next financial year to deliver our priorities:

  • Supporting the most vulnerable - including our long term goals to reduce inequality and tackle child poverty;
  • Getting the basics right - by continuing to invest in our communities to tackle issues such as graffiti, fly-tipping, crime and homelessness;
  • Supporting jobs and green economic recovery - by supporting business and making sure our young people and those made unemployed can train or get a job;
  • Action on climate change and sustainability - ensuring that as we recover from Covid-19 we tackle climate change and invest in green, well paid jobs;
  • Continuing Covid-19 support – the support and services needed to manage the impact of the pandemic and support people will be with us for some time.

 

There for you when it mattered

The Covid-19 pandemic has placed Milton Keynes Council at the frontline of the response.

We were there when you needed us and continue to deliver vital services to those who need us most.

We have:

  • Created a local support service for the most vulnerable to get help and essential supplies to those that need it most;
  • Helped set-up Foodbank Xtra;
  • Delivered 2,283 emergency prescriptions & packages;
  • Supported our care homes and the vulnerable with help and advice and supplied 114,000 items of PPE;
  • Set out a £2.25m economic recovery plan to create green jobs and help people into work
  • Paid out £58m in support to individuals and businesses;

 

The cost of Covid-19

The pandemic has placed a huge strain on the finances of Milton Keynes Council, which after ten years of funding cuts and budget reductions were already stretched to breaking point. The issues caused by the pandemic such as an economic recession, increased unemployment and extra demand for our services means we have less money coming in and more going out, including:

  • All the extra cost of delivering emergency Covid-19 services and support;
  • Reduced income from council tax and business rates;
  • An 80% fall of income from car parking;
  • A massive increase in demand for local welfare support;
  • Extra costs for adult social care.

The government have provided some additional funding to help, but after all the additional costs of Covid-19, increased cost pressures from day to day services and the loss of income is taken into account we have a gap of over £12m in our 2021/22 budget.

 

Our choices

The vast majority of councils will need to make very difficult choices. Some are having to make severe cuts and substantially increase council tax.

The government have said that in addition to the maximum 2% council tax increase, councils will be allowed to levy an additional social care precept of up to 3% on council tax. If Milton Keynes Council increased council tax by the full 5% allowed it would mean £6m in additional income – still not enough to cover the gap in our budget. At a time of economic difficulty asking people to pay an extra 5% council tax could also be difficult.

Alternatively, the council can choose to reduce our spending, meaning cuts to vital services. After ten years of austerity that would mean stopping or cutting services for the most vulnerable and reducing the levels of services already reduced by a decade of cuts such as street cleaning and landscaping.

The third option is to make some savings from the money we spend, make a small increase to council tax and use our reserves to balance the budget and prevent severe cuts to services.

It is normally not the case that using reserves to balance the budget would be a viable long-term solution to a budget gap. However, we believe that some loss of our income such as council tax, car parking and other revenue will recover over time. Therefore we believe that using the money we have saved for an emergency, during an emergency, is the right thing to do. We are only able to do this because of the prudent choices we have made in previous years. We would not be able to do this had we already used this funding in previous years.

 

What we are proposing

  • A reduction in council spending of £9.2m;
  • Using £2.88m of reserves to balance the budget and prevent severe cuts;
  • A 2.5% council tax increase.

The reduction in spending will mean some difficult choices need to be made on services and therefore we are putting forward the following:

  • Replacing some bus subsidies with demand responsive transport;
  • Making the booking system at tips permanent;
  • Charging for non-household waste at tips.

By prudently using reserves we have rejected several cuts and proposals that would have been required to balance the budget including:

  • Closing all libraries and reducing the number of children’s centres;
  • Stopping council-run day care services;
  • Ceasing all remaining funding to the charitable, voluntary and cultural sectors.

Due to how late the government announcement has been in the budget cycle we have not finalised our spending proposals and over the next few weeks we will also be setting out further plans on how we will help the most vulnerable, support our economy and tackle climate change.

 

Read our draft budget papers

Click to read our draft budget proposals. These proposals and others will form part of our overall spending plans for next financial year, and we are consulting on any changes you might like to see.  The consultation will end on 31 January 2021.

Do you agree or disagree with any of the investment proposals? Are there any services or priorities you believe are not covered? If you’d like to give feedback, please email budget@milton-keynes.gov.uk by 31 January. Council will receive the proposals on 24 February 2021.

Last Updated: 20 September 2021