Central Bedfordshire Council is consulting on its draft budget for 2023/24.
The Council’s Executive is recommending no increase in its part of the Council Tax* for the next financial year. We are all very aware of the financial pressures our residents are under as inflation and the cost of living continues to rise. Even though the Council’s running costs have also risen and demand for our adult social care and children’s services continues to increase, careful budget management over several years means we have been able to keep Council Tax at its current level.
We will not be cutting services or investment in projects such as roads, schools, leisure centres and care homes. There will be increased spending in some areas including care for older people, adults with disabilities, support for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and children who need our protection. Green waste collection will remain free in Central Bedfordshire and we have no plans to move to three weekly household waste collection.
We pride ourselves on excellent financial management and planning which has provided protection against the impact of a huge increase in inflation. We are always looking for ways to deliver our services more effectively and we will be using some of our reserves (savings) so we will not be raising our share of Council Tax next year.
Paper copies will be available in our libraries and you can request a paper copy by calling 0300 300 8000.
* Your Council Tax bill includes Council Tax that pays for Police, Fire and your Town or Parish Council, these organisations set their own increases and if they raise their share of Council Tax your bill will increase.
As is right and proper, announcements about new Government policies were paused during the national period of mourning.
We now look forward to the new Government, headed by Liz Truss who has moved quickly to announce very significant help with energy bills over the next two years for hard-pressed households and a six-month scheme for most business organisations including charities and public bodies.
Then, on Friday during the fiscal event, Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng announced exciting new policies to accelerate economic growth. This included new Investment Zones in 38 local authority areas, including Central Bedfordshire. We are working hard with government to introduce these as soon as possible.
We want to encourage more opportunities to enable our residents to work closer to home and to have rewarding employment. Investment Zones can help us to achieve this.
A possible location could be an 84-acre site in Cranfield where Marshall’s are considering relocating from Cambridge. They would join an existing cutting-edge research and aerospace innovation community. Enabling this to happen at speed will expand local employment and training opportunities.
We are also looking at several other potential sites across Central Bedfordshire and I look forward to sharing more details about this exciting initiative over the coming months.
Household budgets are being squeezed more and more as energy, fuel, inflation and food prices continue to soar. Its important everyone knows how to access support if they are struggling.
Every household in a Council Tax band A-D property will receive a one-off payment of £150 to help with energy costs. If you pay Council Tax by direct debit this will go directly into your bank account. If you don’t pay by direct debit the Council will be in touch with you to explain how your payment will be made – you do not need to contact us.
The Council has helped 9,000 vulnerable households with food, energy and water bills using the Household Support Fund. This includes over 12,000 supermarket vouchers for households with children eligible for free school meals to support with food costs during school holidays. We’ve also used some of this funding to support local food banks.
A second round of the Household Support Fund has been announced and councils will be able to give more support to pensioners through the updated scheme. More information will be available later in the year.
We also fund three local Citizen’s Advice organisations which provide impartial financial management advice, debt advice and help make sure residents apply for the different benefits they might be eligible for.
If you are starting to struggle with paying your rent or mortgage, get in touch with our housing team who can advise you. Don’t wait until you are at risk of becoming homeless, the sooner we can help you the better.
You may also be able to get help with your Council Tax. Although we have tried to keep Council Tax increases as low as possible, we continue to protect those residents on lowest incomes, so those most in need pay no or very little Council Tax.
This year is set to be tough for everybody, especially those on low incomes and Central Bedfordshire Council will continue to support you in any way we can. If you are struggling, please contact us or one of our partner agencies for advice and support.